If You See the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him - Let's Play Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

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#141

This dungeon. Hoo boy, this dungeon. Navigating it was such a nightmare. I don’t remember how long it took me before I gave in and looked for that map. An hour and a half? Two hours? Whatever it was, it was too long to be looking at those swirls of color.

Thank you for playing this again so I don’t have to.

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#142

Wandering around the Third Brane, we can spot large clumps of interactive colored crystals, like this red one here. You may recall that there were blue, yellow, and red colored doors in the First and Second Branes (and on this Brane, for that matter).

Shuffle about to find them, poke them, cause the same-colored doors to open as a result. Simple enough.

All of the Third Brane’s web of doors and teleporters eventually spirals into the center, Third Brane N, which leads to the Fourth Brane.

It’s ultimately more of the same. Run around, run around some more, run around even more, and eventually get where you need to go. That’s really one of the biggest problems with YHVH’s Universe as a dungeon: it’s uninteresting. Rather than make you go “wow, the vastness of the cosmos is overwhelming and I am but a speck in YHVH’s eye, this is going to be a challenge”, it makes you go “wow, this is bland and poorly thought out”. Even the boss fights up to this point feel hollow, as two are pseudo-rematches, one is Metatron not bringing his A-game, and other than a scant few lines from Metatron at the very start of his conflict they are silent antagonists. This is only compounded by the lack of negotiation-friendly demons, long stretches of large dungeon floors where you are doing nothing, and the grueling inanity of fighting way too many Horde reinforcements when they pop up. Fighting five Metatron Hordes (yes, they become regular enemies right after the midboss fight with him) in a row both takes the majesty out of that affair as well, and is immensely obnoxious when you get worn down by a Fire of Sinai-slinging war of attrition with the repeated reinforcements.

After going through most of the alphabet, we’re finally here: Fourth Brane S, the Stairway to Heaven, the final ascent toward the throne of God.

After so long, our quest is almost at its end. The only obstacle that lies ahead is YHVH himself. …Or so I would say, if I was a liar.

While that would be completely feasible, no.

Guess so. Nothing up ahead. We’ll have to find a different route.

Wait. They’re back, kid.

Two spirits appear at the dead end.

Walter! Jonathan!

Charlotte! Wait, no, wrong demon-hunting franchise.

After you defeated those illusions, I figured out what I have to do.

Sure, okay.

And, indeed, they are a-fusin’.

With a fancy Kabbalist Tree of Life followed by a pentagram, even.

Satan in the Shin Megami Tensei series takes cues from the Old Testament, giving Lucifer full reign over the New Testament and your Paradise Losts and such. He is the Satan of Judaism, God’s personal prosecutor for the trial of mankind. As one of God’s creations and in submission to him, Satan cannot move without God’s permission, such as when he gets the go-ahead to be an asshole during the ruthless testing of Job. Rather than the ultimate adversary of God, he is the one God uses to separate the wheat from the chaff through trials and temptation.

For almost all of the Shin Megami Tensei games from Shin Megami Tensei II onward (Persona, Persona 2’s two installations, and Apocalypse being the exceptions), Satan has kept the same design from Kazuma Kaneko: that of a monstrous figure both skeletal and insectoid, bearing six arms, six wings, and six protruberant breasts. 666, you see. Masayuki Doi’s interpretation here is a bit of the Dragon of Revelation mixed with some aspects of Satan as seen in the original Persona.

Chaos, order, neutrality… It matters not what state the universe is in.

The universe is constantly in flux.

Old gives way to new; it is the irrefutable law of nature.

Ascertaining God’s identity and breaking free of his rule is in accordance with the law.

See? Right there, it’s official. Nothing in the rulebook says you can’t steal God’s sweet chair.

I can guide you to YHVH’s throne, if you so wish.

But first…you must prove yourself to me.

You hail from a world shackled by slavery. But in this one blow the winds of freedom.

If the soul is as peace, even in the depths of Hell shall one find comfort.

As proof, you – slaves of God – did not recognize that you were being shackled…

Yet you now wish to dethrone the Creator. Then show me the strength of your determination… Your will.

Hold nothing back. Failing this test would mean eternal death.


Boss Battle!: Satan :crossed_swords:

Satan is both at the level cap of 99 and in his own race/clan. That’s how you know he means business…well, that and his complete lack of weaknesses. He resists Physical and Gun and drains Fire, Light, and Dark. This means you need to go all-in with your best Electric, Force, and Ice attackers rather than relying on any weakness.

Also of note is that he has the battle theme “Deicide”, which is the same one that played for the battle with Vishnu-Flynn.

Unfortunately for us, Satan hits like a freight train, having +8 affinity to Physical, Fire, and Almighty. Of skills we’ve seen before, he has the attack skills Akasha Arts and Trisagion and the support skills Concentrate, Dekaja, Dekunda, Luster Candy, and Magaon. Akasha Arts in particular is a reference to Shin Megami Tensei II, where having him pal around with you on a Law run involved him taking human form and being a punch wizard who used Deathbound and Akasha Arts.

He also has his own unique skill called Megiddo Ark. Its name is another Shin Megami Tensei II reference: the Megiddo Ark was YHVH’s own personal Death Star that Satan planned on using to wipe Earth’s slate clean if you sided with Chaos or Neutrality. This is a single-target skill that deals severe Almighty damage, and if you bring too many demons that negate his Physical and Fire attacks he will spam this like a motherfucker. Your one saving grace is that he has no multi-target attacks, which means you can stay in the fight as long as you keep healed up and he spreads his damage over multiple party members instead of picking on one (which he very well might do).

Of course, just because you can keep yourself healed doesn’t mean there won’t be obstacles. Especially when he pulls out his dialogue options, starting with this one on his second turn of combat. He immediately drops your whole party to 1 HP before continuing his speech.

Tell me: what course would you proceed if you found yourself outmatched?

Your options to reply are “find a solution on my own”, “rely on my friends”, or “rely on my demons”. You get to have an action with whichever choice you make, so I chose the middle answer so Asahi could work her medical magic.

So you turn to the aid of others when overwhelmed. Very well.

Dependency can be corruptive; demonstrate your own strength to prove that such is not the case.

Satan spares Asahi and your other friends a grave stare.

The Assist Gauge drains completely.

On his third turn, Satan goes all judge and jury yet again. Which, to be fair, is his job.

Prove that you can endure such peril.

Satan completely recovers!

Wasting our first two turns is kind of annoying, but there are worse fates. It just means we have to attack all the harder.

Jeeze, Satan’s such a chatty Kathy. This one happens on his fourth turn.

Prove your tenacity.

This lets him slap you with both a Debilitate and the Mute ailment. Rude, but again, not insurmountable so much as a temporary inconvenience.

Fifth turn for Satan, and he’s still going with new tests. You’ve got to hand it to him, he’s dedicated to his job.

Which do you choose? Answer.

Your options to reply are “have your friends handle fate”, “brave the fate yourself”, or “choose neither”. The first one has Satan kill Asahi for the fight and last one is a whammy prize where Satan beats the shit out of both you and your partner for being a wiseass, so Good Boy will choose the middle option even though we are past the point where we are even gaining alignment points from choices.

So you would sacrifice yourself for the sake of others. Very well.

Then prove to me that your decision is not of mere self-gratification.

Of course, Satan beats the shit out of you anyway, just in this case your partner is spared. You’re guaranteed to have at least two party members die in his three actions gained on the turn, but death isn’t so scary when you have Alilat and her cheap Samerecarm spam. This is also his last time threatening the party with a test; from here on out, it’s a straightforward battle of fists and magic.

You have proven yourselves worthy. I shall take you to YHVH.

Satan has around 11,000 HP (11,111 specifically assuming his self-healing earlier directly maps to his max HP cap), so he’s not a particularly durable boss. His strength lies in being a sheer powerhouse of attacks with support skills on the side, and if he gets his damage train rolling hard enough he can pretty much plow through three fourths of your party in a single turn…being on the receiving end of 1,000+ damage attack rather than the giving end is rough.


Yes. Satan said he accepts us. There’s no reason to fight him any more.

Flynn puts his weapon away. The others follow suit.

Now he will guide us to YHVH.

For a guy who was kidnapped and bodyjacked by a god for half the game, Flynn’s pretty trusting.

You who seek to bring new governance to the universe… You have my blessing.

I shall guide you to YHVH’s throne. Are you prepared?

We have ascended to the inner sanctum of YHVH himself, and the final challenge is within sight.

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#143

Equipment

At this point, I’ve completed all but three non-DLC sidequests the game has thrown at us. For going the distance, we get summoned to the Kinshicho Hunter’s Association bar for our final Hunter quest reward.

S-So, uh… H-hold out your hands.

You receive the Master Suit.

B-Boss made that, for you…

H-He said to give it to you once you became the strongest Hunter… H-He really tricked it out…

I-It turned out really awesome. H-He loved you guys so much…

Didn’t think I’d be giving it to you so soon, though…

Y-You’ve really grown up. I-I know Boss’d be really proud of you… Sniff

The Master Suit is the exact opposite of the Garment of Hope both in color choice and its resistances, giving you resistance to Physical, Gun, and Dark as opposed to the Garment of Hope’s resistance to the elemental quartet. It also gives you five HP more than the Garment of Hope, which is a negligible amount if want to swap between the two.

There are aso two other suits of armor of equal power to the Master Suit, if you are brave enough to explore the entirety of the first two Branes of YHVH’s Universe once you have opened all of the color doors up.

On the First Brane is the Horns of Chaos armor set, a rather goofy piece representing the demonic armies. Resist Electricity and nullify Fire while looking like you’re about to fall over from weight imbalance!

And on the Second Brane is the Wings of Order set, repping for Law. Resist Force and nullify Ice while appearing to have put your wings on wrong!

The Horns of Chaos, Wings of Order, and Master Suit are the best armor sets you can get without spending exorbitant amounts of macca in the post-apocalyptic money sink that is Ginza. The best armor in the game for stat boosting and resistance coverage, the Superior Samurai set, costs a purse-crushing 1,326,360 macca in total. But here’s a bit of a cash-saving secret: assuming you don’t care about the Superior Samurai Suit’s resistances to everything but Physical and Gun, you can actually make the stat boosts of the Master Suit’s pieces better than the Super Samurai set’s pieces with just one Armor Boosting Kit per piece. So jab that Jade Dagger into those interdimensional treasure chests to find some.

Wild Demon Encounters (Third and Fourth Branes)

In the Third Brane onward, you can encounter bondage Angel, Kazfiel, Mastema, Metatron (with a whopping 9,120 HP), and Metatron Horde (with a grand total of 1,8155 HP, making horde reinforcements an a rduous grind, especially when you get up to three or four reinforcements and your hair is being torn out at the time-wasting) as regular enemies. No, you still can’t negotiate with them even though they’re normal demons rather than the A. creatures.

There’s also two new hordes, one being the Herald Army. This group of Victors, Izrafels, and Kazfiel are resistant to Gun, Force, and Dark, drain Ice, repel Light, and are weak to Fire and Electricity. The horde uses Critical Eye, Heaven’s Bow, Panic Voice, and Ice Age.

The second is the Seraph Army, which joined the ranks of annoying demons that refused to show up for the camera in spite of repeated attempts to find them in a reasonable amount of time. This level 95 Horde nullifies Dark, drains Electricity and Light, repels Fire, and is weak to Force, and its skills are Amrita, Concentrate, Riot Gun, and Trisagion.

And speaking of Heralds, there are two of them here! The Level 86 Herald Sraosha, one of Mitra’s fellow judging yazata, is on the left. He resists Ice and Electricity, drains Light, and is weak to Force. His starting skills are Holy Wrath, Judgment Light, and Diarahan, while leveing him up gets you Concentrate, High Light Pleroma, and Drain Elec at levels 87, 88, and 89 respectively.

In the center we have Seraph, level 94 Herald and representative of the ninth and highest rank of angels in traditional angelic hierarchy. Seraph’s starting skills are Riot Gun and Trisagion, while leveling it up provides Repel Elec at level 95, Salvation at level 96, and High Gun Pleroma at level 97.

Fusions

I fused up Mitra-Buddha, since he is the last special fusion we can get at the moment. His special fusion is the triad of Maitreya, Quetzalcoatl, and the Japanese storm god Susano-o. His level-up skills are Glacial Blast at level 96 and that unique passive Self-Righteous Vow at level 97.

Huang Di is the highest level Famed, and one I wanted to get the fusion accident for very, very badly. Leveling him up gets you Great Logos at level 87, Victory Cry at level 88, and Repel Light at level 89. Not only is he a great demon in his own right, he’s the only way to get Repel Light, meaning you’re gonna want him if you want to pass that around.

Xuanyuan Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor, is a god and folk hero of China (also someone who shouldn’t be confused with the historical emperor Qin Shi Huang Di). Born by a magical lightning bolt from the stars that impregnated his mother, Huang Di grew his tribe of nomads into a powerful empire that spread across the land and even defeated the six-armed, bull-headed war god Chi You and his armies. Aftr a reign of prosperity, invention, and spreading of Taoism, Huang Di died and ascended to the heavens as a god. You may recall from earlier on in the game that he has an alternate form in the golden dragon Huang Long.

Fusing Shiva and Botis, we finally have Mara in our own party. The big dick’s leveling skills are Doping at level 93, Null Nerve at level 94, and Repel Phys at level 95.

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#144

Our journey’s end awaits just beyond these grand doors. It’s time to end the Millennium Kingdom once and for all.

This must be YHVH’s throne.

At least we’re all in one piece. Ready, Nanashi?

Turn back, those who defy the will of God. You walk along the path to destruction.

Only eternal suffering lies ahead for you.

When has that stopped us before?

As we keep running upward, the ominous voice (which is certainly YHVH, as we’ve kinda killed everyone else who it might be) continues to attempt to warn us off.

You come here seduced by the words of a demon. I know all that’s befallen you thus far.

Go back now, and I shall show you mercy and forgive your trespasses.

Can’t go back now. We’re still heading forward.

You cannot possibly comprehend my nature. All things exist because I do. To destroy me would be to destroy your world.

You, who were once nothing more than dust. I offer you one final opportunity to turn back.

Nope.

YHVH’s form here is a direct 3D rendering of his appearance in Shin Megami Tensei II, and it’s pretty impressive. All aglow, way bigger than Nanashi, and generally a shiny golden god.

You probably know about YHVH. Be he referred to as Yahweh, Jehovah, Adonai, The Lord of Hosts, or simply God…well, he’s kind of a big deal. The name YHVH/YHWH itself is also referred to as the Tetragrammaton, being the name of God made up of the Hebrew letters Yod, He, Vav/Waw, and He again. The chief god of the Hebrew kingdoms of Judah and Samaria, YHVH first evolved from elements of El and Baal Hadad, including having El’s wife Asherah as a consort goddess. From that polytheism eventually came henotheism, and from henotheism was born monotheism, leading to the three Abrahamic faiths and their interpretations of God we know today. Presumably you don’t need an introduction to those.

I am infinity. The Supreme Being. The embodiment of law and order.

You disturb my realm, trample my design?

We have ignored your design to follow the path we feel is right.

We fight to build a world where weak humans will not lose their way!

Suddenly, the background goes from pitch black to a glowing array of angry faces. Every speck of light upon the horizon, yet another lighthouse YHVH.

Mankind is weak. Without guidance, you would wander astray. You are not equipped to walk your own path.

That sounds like a challenge. And all our allies definitely take it that way, giving a little speech one by one.

Perhaps, but I do not walk alone. I believe in my bonds with people!

We believe in the power of the people!

I can’t do much alone. But with friends, I can do anything.

You’ll never move forward while you’re forced to walk someone else’s path. You have to carve out your own.

And together, people can motivate one another to push on. Humanity is with us now.

Because we’re weak, we try to be strong. If you’re stopping us from doing so, then I’ll deal with you.

We’re walking our own path, one we believe in. And not even you can stop us.

We each have different reasons that brought us here, but our intentions are one and the same.

I am the arbiter… God, I shall test whether you are worthy of your throne.

And then after a glowing light goes across the screen…

Walter! Jonathan!

Hoy, Flynn. It’s been a while since we fought together, especially looking as I once did.

Flynn. Allow me to lend you my strength as a fellow Samurai.

Isabeau, you better get over here, too.

Yes. It’s not quite the same without you.

Honestly… You three never change!

No, they aren’t. Shut up and get in the back of the line you little lima bean.

Does your sinful arrogance know no bounds that you would dare defy me, Satan?

Vey well. You shall no longer be under my protection. You will find no rest.

When I defeat you, I will replace all of humanity with more obedient servants.


Final Boss Battle!: YHVH :crossed_swords:

You are immediately thrown into the battle, YHVH getting to move first. All of his animations are kind of amazing, though they’re technically mostly based on SMT II sprites. His first action is to double up on Luster Candy and then waste an action waiting to see what happens. Also, his boss theme is, appropriately, called “One Who Stands Against God”.

Your presence is felt everywhere in this world, this unchanging reality.

But you choose to exist outside this world, simply watching…

Why is that?

It is not as though I sat idly by. I suffered just the same as you.

I am always by your side. Your joy is my joy, your grief my grief.

The faithful walk together with me. That is the guidance I provide. That is the salvation I offer.

Would you cast aspersions on me, your Father? Label me guilty to claim your own innocence?

You use demons as a scapegoat for everyone’s suffering and then call whatever’s left hope.

You hide the truth and demand blind faith from people… That’s what you do.

Are you that jealous of humans? Or just afraid?

Yes. He feared humanity.

YHVH apparently has a fragile ego, because rebuking him causes the screen to crack briefly and all of his myriad heads to shudder.

I see – so this is humanity’s power of understanding.

By denying YHVH as the One True God, you dethrone him. You bring him to the same level as a demon.

It won’t be easy, but it’s the only shot we have at beating him.

I’ll lend you my power, kid. Let’s drag him from that throne.

Unsurprisingly, YHVH breaks the level cap. He also resists everything (though that doesn’t matter much to Mr. “I Pierce Everything” over here).

One of the gimmicks of the final showdown with YHVH is that you control two parties. You’ve got you and your demons, then the party of Flynn, Walter, Jonathan, and Isabeau. Of course, YHVH gets to act against both groups in between switching, so he’s not taking this double party bullshit lying down.

To impugn me is to impugn existence itself. You would be tying your own rope…

And yet, I still love and pity you, my ignorant children. Repent, and your sins shall be forgiven.

I offer my hand to any and all who believe in me. Have faith and you shall receive my blessing.

After those statements, he double-casts Debilitate on Flynn’s party and then wastes his third action again.

Each of Flynn’s party members has skills, because it would be a bit silly to fight with them if they didn’t. Flynn himself is kitted out with Antichthon, Energy Drain, Me Patra, Mediarahan, Samarecarm, and a unique skill called Godslayer’s Sword. Godslayer’s Sword is always considered to be strong against YHVH, guaranteeing a critical hit and free Press Turn with its use, and also breaks one of his resistances. If Flynn hits the same damage type twice, it’ll go from resistant to neutral to weak, giving you a knife to shove in.

As for the others, Isabeau has the skills she does as a partner, Jonathan uses Judgment Light, Riot Gun, Zandyne, Samarecarm, Concentrate, Dekaja, and Merkabah’s unique skill Chariot, and Walter has Agidyne, Berserker God, Myriad Arrows, Critical Eye, Debilitate, Dekaja, Magaon, and Lucifer’s unique skill Evil Gleam.

For his part, on top of the already shown Luster Candy and Debilitate, YHVH’s packing a bunch of unique skills. Divine Wave is straight up Berserker God with a different name, though, so not much to that. Especially when Mara and Shiva both drain Physical damage and can rob YHVH of his turn as a result (take a wild guess at what he did his very first time attacking).

After dealing 2,000 damage, you are told that things would be easier if you just dick-punched YHVH’s ego more. The first three partners we are given the option of using to tell him off are Asahi, Navarre, and Hallelujah. We’ll start with Asahi.

You judge people’s worth on how much they believe in you, obey you…

But is that all we are, to you? Are we really worthless if we don’t have value to you?

I mean, just because I’m weak and I have to rely on others doesn’t mean that I’m worthless.

My friends helped me realize that I alone decide the value of my life.

YHVH’s preachings of forgiveness are denied.

You may notice that after the denial, a few of YHVH’s faces are gone. This hasn’t done anything for now, but its time will come. This trippy screen is for another unique skill, by the by: Mouth of God, which is basically a coin toss Almighty skill that either does nothing or instakills.

YHVH also has skills that are equivalent to the Ma-dyne spells plus Pierce for the appropriate element. There’s Tornado of God for Force, Lightning of God for Electricity, Hailstorm of God for Ice, and Inferno of God for Fire. As you can see, he really gets into casting them too.

Speaking of tornados, though, YHVH unfortunately got himself Godslayer Sworded into being weak to Force, so the gang was able to tear into him and get him down to 6,000 HP, the next threshold for rebuking him. Might as well go right down the list and have Navarre go next.

That’s not love. It’s empty pity.

If you really loved them, you’d motivate them, give them a good swift kick in the rear.

Oh, Navarre… Completely missing the point.

YHVH’s preachings of benevolence are denied.

Right back into the fight after the second rebuking, YHVH starts pulling out more new skills. Divine Harmony straight-up wipes the slate clean: it’s Dekaja, Dekunda, target-all Magaon, and reversal of Doping all in one.

Holy Stigmata is a single-target attack that deals severe Physical damage and inflicts Brand. Oh boy, Brand. That particular ailment straightforwardly stops you from being able to heal whoever is inflicted with it; you can technically waste a Media type spell, but it just heals 1 HP and refuses to go any higher as long as the target is branded.

Brand appeared back in Shin Megami Tensei IV’s archangel battle DLC, where you could actually attain it from one of the archangels when you beat them and subsequently fused them. Here, however, it’s an enemy-exclusive ailment.

At 6,500 HP, it’s time for Hallelujah to take the roasting stand. I’m sure he can do better than Navarre.

If I see a kid crying, I help them.

But all you do is watch. There’s no reason to believe in you.

You demand so much without giving anything in return. How is that right?

YHVH’s preachings of fairness are denied.

After taking 11,000 or so HP of damage, YHVH chomps down and immediately drops your entire party to 1 HP.

Because I am always with you, I know what has led you to me.

Tempted by demons, stirred by your allies – it is only natural that you would inevitably come before me.

I offer you one last chance: sever ties and become my servant, or burn in the depths of Hell.

The choice is yours.

You can offer to join YHVH, but he’ll straight up kill you immediately for being an untrustworthy allegiance-shifter, so it’s not really a bad end so much as a “you fucked up”. So Nanashi’s having no part of that.

This is, as so many times before, an Assist Gauge increase.

Very well, my cursed child. Have your wish. My lightning shall send you screaming to Hell.

There you shall burn, awash in suffering, bound to your original sin for all eternity.

YHVH’s glare freezes you in place.

This is a combo of an unblockable Makajamaon and Debilitate. Unfortunate, but since we have a maxed Assist Gauge it means we have time to repair ourselves from this hazard.

At 13,000 HP down, it’s time for more rebuking courtesy of Nozomi, Gaston, or Toki. As you can see, I’m still just going down the list in order each time it pops up.

Your existence prevents the emergence of new gods. That means humanity can’t progress on their own accord.

With you around, reigning over our fate, we’re left with no means to find our own path.

YHVH’s preachings of freedom are denied.

By this point we’ve really pissed off YHVH, and he’s bringing out even more new skills. Miracle reduces a party’s HP to 1 during combat rather than as a cutscene.

Still, we can’t be stopped. Just gonna keep rebuking until he breaks, this second to last party member denial of his might coming at 17,000 or so HP of damage dealt.

I see now that you spin lies to fool the weak-minded into believing they’re your “chosen” people.

Elitism leads to decadence. Nothing good comes out of pitying each other.

Your very existence debases humanity! You’re the Unclean One!

YHVH’s preachings of purity are denied.

At 20,000 HP, YHVH’s looking a little roughed up, slowly shaking his head back and forth as he looks toward the ground (for what measure a featureless void can have a ground). Our sixth and final rebuke is now ready.

But your forgiveness is empty. The only thing it accomplishes is to hide your believers’ weaknesses.

I learned that one’s weakness should be changed, not hidden.

Whoever believes in your forgiveness only becomes weaker. Who’d want that?

Keep your compassion to yourself. Don’t toy with us humans.

YHVH’s preachings of compassion are denied.

As one of his last desperate moves, YHVH brings out Smile Charge, making a creepy smile when he casts it. You absolutely, positively want to use Magaon before he takes any further actions if you don’t want to get trashed.

And his very last ace in the hole is Authoritative Stance. In a bid to slow you down, this skill strips you of three of your four Press Turns for the next turn.

Unfortunately for him, we prevailed. At around 24,000 HP of damage smashed into his big ol’ face, YHVH begins freaking out.

And fading.

And totally doesn’t actually die, because did you really expect a JRPG boss to only have one phase? Through the cognitive quantum wizardry of Understanding/Observation, Nanashi and crew have literally demonized YHVH, transforming him into a corrupted monstrosity with the composite features of a man in pain, the head and wings of a stereotypical demon, the heads of a locust, bull, frog, snake, and goat, a scorpion tail, and a sort of weird tentacle-serpent lower body situation going on. Don’t ask me what exactly it all means, because I’m not sure. Some of those things could be tied to the ten plagues of the Exodus, but that still leaves the scorpion tail and weird lower body.

I asked only that you take the life I granted you and obediently follow my word.

The weight of your blasphemy is too great for death. Eternal suffering is the only suitable punishment.

As in his first phase, YHVH gets to go first, wasting a Press Turn being mad as hell.

Of course, he makes up for it immediately after. Demon YHVH loses Divine Wave, Miracle, Luster Candy and Debilitate, and Authoritative Stance, but gains some new skills to compensate. One is Infinite Power, which is a combination of Smile Charge and three Luster Candies at once. It also has an opposite in Unending Curse, which is three Debilitates at once. The game is at least kind enough to have him waste a Press Turn on Scorn again immediately after, giving you a chance to Magaon him before he plows your face into stardust.

Looking at him on our first turn, we can see that demon YHVH hasn’t gained any more levels. He has, however, reset all of his resistances and had alterations to his skill list.

While Divine Wave may be gone, YHVH has attained two new physical skills upon transformation. Crush deals severe Physical damage to a foe, so it’s nothing too fancy (though it hurts like hell).

Rampage, on the other hand, is something and a half. It dealssix to eight strikes of medium Physical damage to random foes, which hits hard given his +5 affinity to every damage type he wields.

If being attacked with Physical strikes doesn’t phase your party, there’s always Supernova here, which deals severe Almighty damage to all foes.

Planned Chaos is single-target and deals only medium Almighty damage, but it also has a chance of inflicting Bind, Charm, and/or Panic.

Finally, there’s Black Hole, which sucks up a huge chunk of your party’s MP.

At around 14,500 damage, demon YHVH interrupts the battle for the first time.

How will you repent for a sin this grave? Do you think yourself capable of carrying that cross?

Praise my name, before it is too late! Praise my glory!

He’s finally revealed his true nature…

Falling from grace… The same fate that befell the other gods has finally come to him.

I’m tired of your restrictions. Humans can become stronger if they aren’t held back by you.

Your words are empty and meaningless. I will show you the power of action!

It seem that miffed him off a bit. You know, just a tad.

At 30,000 or so HP of damage dealt, demon YHVH attempts once again to threaten the party into backing down.

Your so-called truth makes me nauseous.

Enough of this, kid. Put an end to him with your own two hands!

End this, so the fairies and humans can finally live in freedom!

This ought to prove child’s play, for you. Show him our power!

I shall cede the stage, just this once. Flaunt your magnificence, for the sake of the people.

You’ve gotta tie this one up. Do it for the people of Tokyo.

I believe in you… Don’t let me down!

Go, Nanashi!

How could mere humans surpass gods and destroy even me, your Creator?

No, this is not the end. You’ve only led yourself further astray.

Humans are weak. You cannot live without my law, my order. You need something to believe in.

But now, you’ve debased my truths, and so I shall slip from the minds of humans.

Humanity will inevitably lose its way and long for salvation. Then…you shall regret this decision…

And with that, YHVH explodes into a blinding white light. The battle is over. All that remains is to see our victory’s results and the journey’s end.

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#145

Is everyone alright?

We are, but…

Where are Walter and Jonathan?!

You can hear their voices echo as if answering Isabeau’s call.

Come now, Isabeau. You should have known we cannot return to your world.

YHVH said it, Satan was a part of him.

Since you defeated him, we must return to the Axiom.

Flynn. Isabeau. Let’s meet again after we all reincarnate.

Not even the part where you were sacrificed to make a weird god-chariot with nipple tassels?

They were the paths we chose, after all.

Let us hope that we are good friends and strong rivals the next time we meet.

You too, Navarre.

Nrgh…

So long. I enjoyed your company.

Meeting you was a wonderful experience. Farewell.

You can no longer hear their voices.

As if on cue, Stephen and the little girl appear.

He’s really good at that.

Hello, everyone. Well done.

It looks like Satan – both halves of him – has left.

You no longer need to tremble in fear of God. Your observations should not be impeded, either.

Thank you.

…Okay, sure, whatever, nameless goddess. Be an adult now.

The Axiom is the binding force of the universe…

In a time of need, it sometimes bestows two messiahs.

I speak of you, Nanashi, and you, Flynn.

Nanashi is a messiah?!

Yeah, he has the whole super secret Messiah Blast handshake and everything.

Through the eyes of the messiah, the Axiom observes the world.

Please, continue leading humanity.

Make sure that your eyes don’t deceive you.

Stephen and the Goddess of Tokyo disappear.

That’s quite a responsibility.

The universe really is in our hands, now.

You know what, I think we’re up to it.

Of course we are, nothing is impossible for us.

Yes. Humanity has the power to change the future.

And the power to change the future is the power to change the present.

That’s right.

So it’s all up to us… I’ll do whatever I can for as long as I can.

Yeah, this isn’t the end – it’s only the beginning!

It won’t be easy going, I’m sure. Can’t have the good without the bad.

But we’ll do the best we can. Tomorrow, the day after, and every day after that.

Your allies nod in agreement.

Wait, you’re leaving already?

I’ve been gone too long.

Mikado has lost God as its leader. The people must be in a state of panic.

In order to join the people of Tokyo, we’ll need to rebuild quickly.

I will give everything I have to rebuild Mikado.

Only after that can I truly be the great Samurai the people deserve.

It’s going to take a lot to heal the damage done by those demons and gods.

But as the leader of the Ashura-kai, I’ll do whatever I can.

Looks like you two got your work cut out for you.

Hm? What about you? There’s still a lot to fix.

I’m going back to Kinshicho, take over from my dad.

I want to help support Nanashi and the other Hunters so they can do their best.

Nothing as grand as helping all of Tokyo or Mikado…

If you chase your goal, you’ll never fail to grow.

Though, I suppose I never changed…

Not sure I agree. I think admitting that is a sign you’ve matured.

I see… Perhaps you’re right.

At that admission, Navarre briefly flickers in and out of existence.

W-Wait! Hold on!

That was close. I almost crossed over. I think I’d rather not change.

Damnit Navarre

That’s perfectly acceptable for some ghosts, is it not?

I’m glad nobody even entertains answering Navarre.

I was swayed by the temptations of the Aether at the Fudo temples… That won’t happen again.

So, no more Ring of Gaea?

I don’t need to be in an organization to pursue my ideals of survival of the fittest.

Keep in mind: next time we meet, I might be your enemy.

Toki at least managed to be more of a Chaos rep than a lot of the nerds claiming that title in this game.

Or, if life goes another way… Maybe you and I…

Toki looks at you, blushes, and turns away.

Couldn’t resist poking that thread at least one more time, could you, game?

Alright, that’s enough flirting for now.

Well, Danu and I are off to the Fairy Forest with Dagda.

My sincerest thanks to you. Dagda…

I know. It’s time.

Dagda turns to you.

You found your own way. Don’t need my power anymore.

You’re no longer my Godslayer. Your life is yours again, kid.

Yes, he’s human. Through and through.

Maybe I’m nitpicking, but it seems weird that killing YHVH somehow overturned the fact that Nanashi is a walking stiff that needs Dagda’s mojo to stay alive. I mean, I know Dagda resurrected Asahi full stop, but if Nanashi could have been made human all this time why didn’t that just happen at the alignment path split?

Well, now that that’s over, I can rest easy and get back to my fairy queen responsibilities.

You made all this possible, Nanashi.

Thank you. For everything.

You and your friends hold on to the sentimental moment as long as you can.

Time to go back to our own lives, huh. I guess this is goodbye…

Hmph! Don’t get so sentimental. I don’t even count this as a farewell.

That and you’re all in the same general area of the same city. That’s a thing too.

I bet our paths will cross again, whether we like it or not.

Haha, yeah. Maybe we’ll see each other soon.

I’m sure. Well then…

See you soon.

And with that, the game fades into the final motion comic.

Some things never change.

YHVH’s destruction doesn’t mean the demons are gone. Far from it, in fact, but it seems the Hunters and Samurai are putting them to good use. Got a Mermaid, Tenkai, and Centaur here helping rebuild. And since humans can still use demons, that means they can defend themselves against the ones that are presumably still hostile out there.

You’re looking a bit, uh, off-model there Skins.

And while I don’t disagree with my older self, this new me exists because of you.

You’re looking a bit off-model too, Nozomi.

The new statue in Aquila Plaza’s of Nanashi and Flynn. Good going, lads.

The gang’s all here for the unveiling. It seems peace has truly come to humanity, for real this time.

Having come very far since we first met him, Gaston now smiles proudly at the statue and strength of his comrades.

…And gets a slap on his back from the jovial Nozomi as a result.

Glad I wound up stuck with you.

And that, as they say, is that. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse was one hell of a ride, eh? The ride’s not over, of course, but I can at least talk about the pre-alignment split and Peace parts of the story. And my first statement would be a reiteration of my initial statement from the start of the LP: that it’s conflicting.

The overall theme of Apocalypse’s human (and once-human) cast seems to be one of bonds. Hell, an alternate name for the Peace route is even the Bonds route. On its face, the idea of camaraderie in the face of overwhelming odds is one I’m all for, even if it moves away from the typical SMT protagonist’s place as a lone wolf with maybe two or three friends who inevitably go alignment-bonkers and thus become enemies. Unfortunately, a lot of the character interaction is just so weird. While Gaston and Hallelujah work well for the most part and Nozomi and Isabeau are in a state of ‘my character development already happened’ limbo, we have three others could use a bit of work. The love triangle between Nanashi, Asahi, and Toki is both awkwardly written and generally uncomfortable, and could have been better served with Asahi’s sisterhood with Nanashi and Toki’s pursuit of the ideals of Chaos conflicting with her desire for companionship being utilized instead. And Navarre…I dunno, you could cut Navarre for all I care and the only thing I’d miss would be his skills.

The supernatural elements of the story are also rather mixed. The big picture of Observation and the idea that gods are unchanging on their own terms but mutable if humanity’s will is powerful enough is in and of itself interesting and based on the quantum mechanical principle of the observer effect, but the execution has its moments of faltering. This is mostly made manifest in YHVH’s confounding chronology. The gods once all existed as a stated of cosmic oneness, not gods but the natural forces themselves, until humanity Observed them…yet YHVH also kicked the asses of the other gods before creating the universe and thus humanity. YHVH hid himself from Observation until Team Nanashi kicked his door in…yet he was Observed out of the cosmos in the first place. Or was he there before Observation? And so on. It’s all a bit muddled.

Oh, and the Tokyo Goddess is completely inconsequential to the plot or anything else. What was her deal?

Still, there are scenes that still felt ‘right’ to me. You’ve got the aforementioned Gaston and Hallelujah plot arcs, the Hiroshi sidequests, the Ken sidequests and of course the game mechanics themselves. Further, you’ve got all the in-betweens that aren’t enough for me to hate but not enough for me to remember that fondly either. In the end, Apocalypse is a game where the gameplay is magnificent but the story reminds me of watching a movie you repeat for experience in spite of deeply hating some scenes.

Speaking of scenes and movies, next time we’ll be hitting the rewind button to the big alignment decision. What would have happened had Nanashi taken the other path, eschewed his humanity, and joined with Dagda in tearing down the universe?

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#146

Let’s turn back the clock. Back to the 7/8 Moon, when we had the choice to slay or join Dagda. What would happen if we were to stray from the road of Peace? To join the path of Anarchy? Strap in, because this is a bit of a long post.

Change 1: Killing Your Friends

Dagda is clearly totally not villainous in his response.

That’s right, my Godslayer.

How could you? After all we’ve been through together…

You’re the reincarnation of Akira.

Doesn’t some part of you want to finish what he started?

His previous life means nothing. My Godslayer is bound by nothing.

Well, nothing besides the binding Dagda did himself.

Your former allies glare at you.

Sorry, Leader. I have an organization to think about.

I would never dare think of betraying the people.

Flynn is our hope. I cannot break my promise to him.

To surpass humanity and become a god… I’m not going to deny that ideal.

But humans have physical body. That’s why we yearn for knowledge, wisdom… Power.

We are driven because we know that one day we will die.

I don’t wish to be a god. I want to become as strong as a human.

Hiding from the truth through willful self-delusion to convince themselves they’re “right”.

Let them serve as brick and mortar to build our new universe.

He’s not being metaphorical about that, either. They’re gonna end up soul fuel in a few minutes.

How can you be so cavalier about casting your friends aside?

I believed in you! I trusted you! And you go and do this?!

Navarre hurls your items on the ground in a huff.

And there goes our inventory.

I won’t let it end like this! I’ll make you open your eyes!

Navarre…

I will strike you down, for the sake of the people.

I thought we’d always be friends…

I must stop you, for the future of all humanity.

You leave me no choice. Farewell.

You now walk a path divergent from there own, kid.

A path that you alone have chosen. Put aside your pity. Be determined.

Now, kill every last one of them. We’ll harvest their souls to help make our new universe.

Like Dagda said, we’ve gotta kill each and every one of our party members, one by one. They’re all level 81, and they all have the same skills they’d have at that level when they were on your party. They all have a mere few thousand HP, and other than Navarre (who is totally damage-neutral) they nullify Light and resist Dark.

What are you trying to accomplish? Do you think Asahi would want you to do this?

You remain silent as you finish her off.

Nozomi’s soul separates from her body. Dagda snares it.

Hello there, Mother. Such a shame to see you reduced to this state.

Upon Nozomi’s death, Danu appeared.

Without Nozomi’s body, however, she can barely maintain herself.

Dagda… You are wrong… You must not destroy…this universe…

I grow weary of you. Cling on to your ideals as long as you’d like.

Dagda finishes off Danu.

Not over yet, kid. Kill the rest.

Yep, we’re getting one of these for every partner. Take it in. Take it all in.

I was ecstatic when I first found you. I was so desperately alone…

You saved me from that loneliness. I thought…I would return the favor next…

You smile and finish off Navarre.

Dagda retrieves Navarre’s soul.

And there’s the other four. Not sure why they decided to divide the partners you fought into two and four rather than three and three, but it is what it is. Hallelujah’s severe magic attacks and Isabeau’s Mediarama make this stage a bit more annoying, but they are nothing against Odin’s Concentrated Thunder Reign of doom or Samyaza’s variety of super-spells. It took just one attack from both of them to axe all but Gaston.

Do you remember when we first met? I asked you to help us carry some of the wounded.

You helped without so much as a word.

I thought I could trust you… I see now I was wrong.

This obviously changes if you were an asshole about helping cart away the Hunters attacked by Aniel.

You silently finish off Isabeau.

Isabeau’s soul leaves her body, and Dagda retrieves it.

I can’t believe I trusted you to lead us.

Our lives were both messed up by demons. Somehow, I thought that would bring us together…

Why did it have to end like this?

You bid Hallelujah farewell as you finish him off.

Hallelujah’s soul leaves his body, and Dagda retrieves it.

Master… Is this really what you want?

I wanted to be with you… Even if I was just a replacement for Asahi…

I wanted to be by your side… I guess it’s too late…

But if I am to die here… I might as well die by your hands.

You silently finish off Toki.

Toki’s soul leaves her body, and Dagda retrieves it.

Hmph. I have nothing to say to you. Hurry up and get this over with.

You thank Gaston.

Why are you thanking me? Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it!

Why?! Why did it have to be this way? This isn’t what I wanted!

Damn it all…! Why are you…? Why am I…?

You finish off Gaston.

Gaston’s soul leaves his body, and Dagda retrieves it.

Your former friends lie dead at your feet.

There’s no one holding you back now.

You gain new power as a Godslayer.

This is the same Awakened Power as in the Peace route.

You did well, kid. Took the first steps in your new life.

Here’s a little something to commemorate the moment.

You obtain Destiny Stone.

The Destiny Stone lets you relearn Awakened Power if you ever remove it for some reason.

Akira’s Gauntlet suddenly starts glowing.

You don’t need that thing anymore. Just throw it away.

That’s the last tie to your old life.

That sword, however, will be quite useful.

You obtain Masakado’s Katana.

Masakado’s Katana isn’t a weapon you can use in actual combat, it merely plays the same part in the plot it did in Peace.

Time to defeat Krishna, kid. Let’s go.

Change 2: Krishna and Vishnu-Flynn Dialogue

Moving forward, the next change in Anarchy is Krishna’s reaction to meeting you.

You must wish for a new universe as well.

This Egg will hatch, and it’s all thanks to you.

Krishna looks at Dagda, still with a confident smile.

After this, he explains to Nanashi the whole bit about YHVH being a dick, Lucifer and the angels being part of his big false flag to keep humans in line, etc. etc. just like he did in Peace, so we’ll skip over that dialogue. Of course, with Dagda present, it gets a different response.

Dagda, join me.

Are you done prattling on?

The kid and I made our choice long before you opened your mouth.

So no. The new universe will be ours.

So it’s come to this. Our Godslayers will fight to the end.

And then the same bit about “YHVH’s heartless suffering” hurting Flynn happens, they fuse, etc. etc., same bit until Vishnu-Flynn comes on the stage.

What do you hope to gain from this? What do you think lies down that path?

This just proves there’s no hope for humans. Humanity’s only chance of salvation is through me.

At which point Vishnu-Flynn powers up just like in the Peace version of the fight. Can’t win with that guy. The fight proceeds normally from there, up until the form change.

Rather than even attempt to call out to Flynn, Vishnu-Flynn takes on his lightsaber form through this exchange.

Did you think you were equals? Not knowing the difference between you is why you’ll never win.

I’ll never win…? Don’t mock me!

Vishnu-Flynn’s intense thirst for blood causes his form to change…

Near the end of the fight, we get one more new dialogue exchange before finishing Vishnu-Flynn off.

Like I said: you can’t beat him. Need to give human will more credit.

What does that have to do with our battle…?

The source of human strength – what allows them to push well beyond their limits – is their willpower.

You made Flynn your Godslayer by twisting his will. This kid became my Godslayer by choice.

The outcome of this fight was decided before it even started.

Cheap semantics… I will prove that human will has nothing to do with it! I… I…

He’ll nothing, because a few strikes later…

Krishna separates from Flynn’s body.

How?! My Godslayer…! Flynn is dead! My plan…

We killed Flynn, by the way. It shouldn’t be surprising.

Pitiful.

Unsheath Masakado’s sword, kid.

Finish him.

You slide Masakado’s sword free.

And then the death plays out the same was as before, save for Nanashi rather than Flynn being the one who runs Krishna through.

As Krishna’s remains disappear into a mist, the clock hands face skywards and the full moon arrives.

The heart of the Cosmic Egg turns into this stylish knockoff Gieger throne for Nanashi to sit on.

Take the throne, kid. It’s yours.

And now Nanashi has a pocket dimension all his own, just like YHVH.

The preparations are now complete. Soon you will become god of a new universe…

For now, rest.

Dagda lays his hand upon your head.

Sleep. Ready yourself for our last battle.

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#147

Change 3: Misoka Moon

Other than the introduction being different, Nanashi gets visited by Stephen in his dreams and told of YHVH and the Axiom just as in the Peace route.

After Stephen’s dream-talk, Nanashi is awakened by Dagda rather than any of the gang. You know, since they were all murdered.

Regardless, it’s time to finish preparing for you to become god of the new universe.

Choose someone you can depend on.

Here, you get the option to bring back one partner. Just one, no refunds.

Whoever you select becomes your goddess. Why does there have to be a god and a goddess? There’s really no reason for an entirely new universe to be governed by the idea of requiring binary deities to compliment one another, especially when YHVH is a solo act, but it’s how it works. While Asahi is the obvious choice if you want good and easy healing, I decided to put the onus of healing entirely on my demons by picking Hallelujah.

Gender is inconsequential. Choose any soul you wish.

Gender is inconsequential, technically, as you can choose anyone to be the Goddess…buuuuuut then they fall into being a mother goddess archetype who wants to bear you a universe of children regardless of who they are, so points off for that.

Huh? You chose me? Thanks…

There might not be anyone we can rely on in this new universe.

But we’re here, together.

Let’s get started on this new world.

Now that you’ve chosen a goddess, the remaining souls will fuel creation.

There’s just one last thing we need to take care of.

So long as his universe persists, the Cosmic Egg cannot hatch the new one.

Dagda motions with his arm. The remaining souls gather into his hand.

Dagda turns to Flynn’s collapse form.

Might as well have another Godslayer in your corner.

And with that, Dagda revives Flynn too.

Here kid, use Flynn.

Flynn, you’re now the kid’s Godslayer.

There’s a reason why Flynn and your goddess are willing to go through with all of this stuff they would have previously been against: their free will just isn’t there anymore.

You remember the ghost who called Flynn’s name gave you something for him…

You give the Fishing Hook to Flynn.

This is a fishing hook. What’s this supposed to mean?

Ouch.

We’ll take the fight to YHVH soon.

You, your goddess, and Flynn.

Together in our last battle.

Let’s go, Leader. We’re going to make a new world. Right?

I shall be by your side, as your Godslayer.

Change 4: Showdown at Ginza

Anarchy gets an extra encounter between defeating Vishnu-Flynn and starting YHVH’s Universe, right in front of the big Masakado rock.

Their weapons are leveled at you.

Fujiwara and Skins step out from the crowd.

Hello there.

Let’s get right down to business. There’s something I want to ask you. Do you mind?

Skins and I had the same strange dream about a man in a wheelchair.

He said you defeated Krishna and took the new universe for yourself.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like Stephen may not be 100% on board with this whole new Godhead business. You know. Just a hunch.

I don’t really believe in dreams. I’d like to just laugh this off.

But, is what Stephen said true?

So, you were a pawn of the demons after all.

Damn you… How could you kill the new boss?

You are a vile imposter who threatens our training ground – this universe.

Flynn comes forward with his hand resting on the pommel of his sword.

My master has surpassed humanity to become a god.

I am his Godslayer. I follow his command.

You stand before a god! Clear a path!

So, you’ve even corrupted Flynn.

This is the path you’ve chosen… Thankfully, only a few people know.

It would be a great shock to the people of Tokyo.

But no one has to find out. We’ll take you here and now.

The humans raise their weapons against you.

Look how pathetic they are, clinging to one another. I can barely look at them.

Kill them all. Show no mercy.

This is it everyone, charge!

You’re just that demon’s pawn after all! You lied to us!

We trusted you! Traitor!

The awesomeness of Battle C3 is back for this fight, making up for its lack of presence in Anarchy beforehand due to the lack of a Dagda battle. The Human Army nullifies Light and is weak to Dark. They’re a pathetic 3,000 HP, not even enough to make it past one round of combat against a god and his warriors, and it’s pretty much pointless to note their attacks as you’ll never see them.

You think the Ashura-kai would let you get away with that?

A second Human Army, this one more heavily skewed toward Ashura-kai, falls in after the first wave dies horribly. And they themselves die just as horribly.

We won’t let our training be for nothing!

Third come the Gaeans. You can guess what happens.

In accordance with the Samurai code, we shall execute you for your crimes against this world!

The Samurai file in for the fourth Human Army. The mere flick of a Thunder Reign wipes them clean off the face of the planet, adding their bodies to the pile.

And lastly, Fujiwara and Skins take center stage in the final wave of the Human Army horde battle.

I thought you believed in a future for humanity…just like Akira!

That’s enough, Fujiwara.

He’s not human anymore.

The people in front of you have collapsed, their heads hung in despair.

Despair is probably the best choice, as this horde is barely stronger than the previous, and falls in one turn as well.

Akira… I’m sorry…

With that, Skins and Fujiwara die their unceremonious deaths. They don’t even get the pretense of being minibosses like your (still weak) allies did.

The bodies of Hunters, Gaeans, and Ashura-kai alike are piled up like mountains.

Beyond them waits Stephen.

Are you quite finished?

So nonchalant. You’re the one who orchestrated this.

I simply told them the truth. Is there a problem?

Stephen is immensely passive-aggressive about the whole matter. Events in a later update will show that he could easily kill Nanashi if he wanted to, but he decided to be weirdly nonchalant about practicing human wave tactics. It honestly feels way out of character for him.

Heh, no… None at all.

Then let us set this conversation aside… I will guide you to YHVH’s Universe.

This, of course, goes all the same, and YHVH’s Universe is breached by Dagda, Nanashi, and his thralls.

Change 5: The War Against YHVH

Most of the dialogue in YHVH’s Universe that isn’t Flynn’s is just gone outright, save for some quips from Dagda here and there about the perseverance against old enemies and yada yada. Also, villainous Nanashi is decked out with the finest off-brand Featuring Dante from Devil May Cry attire.

After YHVH gives his same initial introduction and demand of repentance, Dagda shifts the script from Peace’s talk starting with this line.

I will not settle for less, playing by your rules.

Your thoughts matter not. This universe is defined by my divine providence.

So long as I exist, your efforts are for naught.

Let’s see about that, shall we?

Do what you will. The universe will snuff you out like candlelight.

After the “you dare defy me, Satan?” lines, Satan actually replies, as in Anarchy mode he doesn’t split up into Jonathan and Walter. The actual replies are just Satan doing Jonathan’s questioning and Dagda doing Walter’s, though, so we’ll skip forward into the actual fight.

The first change is that rather than Flynn, Walter, Jonathan, and Isabeau, the second party just has thrall Flynn and Satan. Satan has Akasha Arts, Megiddo Ark, Concentrate, Luster candy, Dekaja, Dekunda, Magaon, and Samarecarm.

You deny the comfort that YHVH gives.

And, of course, the denials are different due to the lack of allies. Namely, there is no speech, with you instead rebuking YHVH’s repetition of the Beatitudes and YHVH just sort of blankly staring back without a retort. They’re all as bland as that, so we’ll move straight past the unchanged YHVH phase 2 and his death to get to the finale.

Change 6: The End

You float adrift through them.

As you do, you hear Satan’s voice.

You have dethroned YHVH as God and defeated him.

This marks my end as well, as I am but an aspect of YHVH.

I shall now return to the Axiom.

You have my blessings, new God…

He’s gone.

Let’s go back to your throne, kid.

Well done.

You defeated YHVH and earned the right to rule the universe.

Now, all the souls in the universe are yours.

Stephen points to the sky.

People’s souls shine like stars.

Why…?

The Goddess of Tokyo vanishes.

And nothing of narrative value was lost.

She will find another messiah – in another universe.

And she will try to regain her power by defeating you.

I would be wary of messiahs.

Lucifer, Merkabah, Krishna…and YHVH.

Be sure you avoid their fates.

Stephen disappears, chasing the goddess.

Your Godslayer, Flynn, and your goddess step forward.

As your Godslayer, I will defeat any god that stands against you.

No matter what god or devil comes, no matter how many die…

I will make more people for you.

Heh…

Now that YHVH’s out of the picture, we can get on with making a new universe.

There, you will be more than human. You’ll be the NEW Creator God, kid.

Let’s get started.

We’ll use the souls of those closest to you to build our new universe.

Sorry, everyone who didn’t get selected to be a goddess, your souls are now brick and mortar for a new cosmos.

From each soul comes a ball, which then cracks and explodes.

And from that explosion, a glimmering blue sky.

Soon, the unspoiled eden, void of humanity, spreads forth from the Cosmic Egg.

It engulfs Tokyo bit by bit, until nothing of the old world is left. Congrats to Nanashi on being the new God of a big field of space flowers. Maybe Kazumo Kaneko’s somewhere in there, frolicking through the cosmos.

Your Goddess is absent throughout the finale, presumably because they didn’t want to draw the same stills six times.

I can finally be free of this Dagda-shaped prison forced upon me by YHVH.

I’ll watch over you and the new humans as part of the universe itself…

Goodbye, kid.

And then Dagda fucks off to be one with the wind and rain or whatever. Adios.

Our final shot of the game in Anarchy is Nanashi’s new glowing gold eyes projecting into the cosmos as the screen fades to black. Game over, you win.

My thoughts on the Anarchy route, believe it or not, have actually improved in the year since the game’s release. Mainly because it works on a conceptual level, if not a practical one. It’s still not good, mind you, being overwrought with the over the top bloodlust of Dagda and general hammering in of how evil it is to betray your friendship and humanity. It’s hard to even contemplate you are doing the greater good when Dagda is cackling like a Saturday morning cartoon supervillain as you slay your comrades one by one. There’s also the fact that in spite of being ostensibly about freeing humanity from the shackles of YHVH’s tyranny, the Anarchy route nonetheless has Nanashi take the role of the Godhead with Flynn as a bodyguard against potential messiahs, thus ensuring that Dagda’s promised total equality of humanity cannot come to pass. Still, the idea of the protagonist taking the throne of God could have worked interestingly in and of itself, as it’s sort of the opposite path of the normal flavor of transhumanist Shin Megami Tensei protagonist.

Figures like the Demi-Fiend as the ‘True Demon’ or the protagonist of Devil Survivor as the King of Bel ascend as demonic warriors, avatars of Chaos that go beyond human barriers to further aid in their war against the divine. Anarchy’s Nanashi goes the complete opposite and becomes unto as YHVH, killing the Creator not to spread Chaos but to usurp his place as the arbiter of the world’s order (though I guess one could argue that the arbitrated order being humanity’s future freed from all demons and gods other than Nanashi himself is sort of vaguely Chaos-ish). It could have truly gone the distance were it handled more effectively. Going back to Devil Survivor, the path to the Throne of Bel allows you to either be ruthless and crush all those who stand in your path or avoid casualties as you try to convince your allies and the civilian populace of Tokyo that some random kid becoming demon king is actually going to work out in the long run.

But Apocalypse’s Anarchy has no such option, no comrades who truly believe in your cause without mental tampering, nothing in the end besides a divine field of flowers and Nanashi’s attainment of the trademark Glowing Gold Eyes of Evil. You could have gone the distance, kid, but you couldn’t stick the landing.

Now that we’ve seen both the ways of Law and of Chaos, the LP will be going on a brief hiatus – I know, as if it didn’t do that already without warning – since I want to clean up and put some little touches on the older existing posts. Afterwards, we’ll be covering New Game+, the game’s optional dungeon, and the DLC derby.

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#148

Well, I thought that Dagda 2.0 was kinda creepy on a conceptual level, but murdering your friends and bringing one of them back to be your mindless servants? Objectively worse. I guess it’s kinda cool that Satan helps you, at least.

It would have been nice if they tried to take Anarchy in some interesting direction. Mixing Peace choices throughout the game but going with the Anarchy endgame path is actually kind of interesting, in that it really could have implied an “ends justify the means” kind of thought process for Nanashi. And considering most of the Anarchy choices throughout the game are more just petty and rude than anything else, pure Anarchy choices could have led to an ending that leans on how hypocritical this recreation of the universe is, given the prick that’s in charge of it. But instead, we just got an interesting concept that ends up being bogged down by also being the typically “evil” path in a game. With a field of flowers in the ending, which I guess is supposed to justify murdering your friends and the universe???

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#149

Hey. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I come bearing good news, however!

I’ve gone back through every past post and added cleaner talk icons when possible, as well as added an update number header for every one to make it easier to spot them when scrolling through the thread.

This means that the thread is officially off of its hiatus. I will soon be posting the updates covering New Game+ content, the game’s optional dungeon, and DLC materials.

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#150

Huzzah! Looking forward to the rest of the game.

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#151

Before we move on to any dungeon delving or DLCs, we need to take a post to discuss what happens when you finish the game and want to start again. That’s right, we’re going over New Game+.

As with many Shin Megami Tensei games these days, Apocalypse has a New Game+. There are two options you can choose for your NG+ run: Reincarnation or New Life. Both allow you to keep your Demon Compendium, play information, and Streetpass functionality, but from there they diverge. New Life is an almost clean slate, with Nanashi back at level 1 and his pockets empty. The only thing he gets to keep are the apps that unlock extra skill slots for him and his demons, assuming he purchased them. Reincarnation gives you the whole shebang: Nanashi gets to retain his level, learned skills, gear, consumables, App Points, and macca. Enter the post-apocalyptic world not as a babe in the woods, but as a roaring lion (who still gets killed by Adramelech because nobody’s going to write a diverging plot just for New Game+).

Unfortunately, unlike a number of other SMT titles including its predecessor, Apocalypse does not have any New Game+ special quests added for you to do. It does, however, unlock five more demons.

The only one of these that isn’t a special fusion is Metatron, though his fusion options are limited. In my case, I fused this one from Seraph and Salamander. By leveling him up to 99, Metatron gains Almighty Pleroma. He’s one of only two demons that naturally learns this passive.

Don’t let my mistake of not screenshotting Chironuppu until he had leveled up fool you, he’s actually the weakest of the four special fusion demons in New Game+ by far. You create him as a level 26 demon with a special fusion of Hare of Inaba, Katakirauwa, and Kuda. Leveling him up gets you Recarmdra at level 27 and Warding Shout at level 28. Warding Shout and Enduring Cheer work the same way they do when Hallelujah uses them.

Merkabah is created via the special fusion of Cherub, Seraph, and Throne. As a level 99 demon, he has no skills gained through leveling up.

Lucifer’s also a level 99 special fusion, created through the special fusion of Aniel, Belial, and Inanna.

And finally, fusing both Lucifer and Merkabah creates Satan, just as it did in the story. As you can see from his skill list, he is the other demon that naturally gives Almighty Pleroma.

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#152

The long bridge across Tokyo Bay isn’t one you ever use in the main story. But there’s something major for our extra material down that way. You could also just go directly south from Minami Sunamachi, but that requires you having been to Minami Sunamachi already, which requires this same path. So yeah.

Past here is a twist… Another Tokyo…

Nobody seems sure who this odd pale man is, though apparently some people believe he’s associated with the White Forest and its nihilistic denizens. I’ve used the icon for Charon from Shin Megami Tensei IV as the icon, but out of utility rather than any belief it’s actually him, because it’s almost assuredly not; that wouldn’t make any sense.

…In other words, Twisted Tokyo.

Clever. You come up with that all by your lonesome?

In Twisted Tokyo, a messiah never came. Everything died in the war between God and the demons.

The only thing that’s left are the Fiends who rained down death.

It’s irrelevant to the Tokyo you live in, but if you want, I can show you to Twisted Tokyo.

Twisted Tokyo is nothing but a huge Domain now. A Domain with walls made out of human skulls, even. As a Domain, you’re not getting any mapping in this area, and you will probably blunder around blind alleys for a while. You’re supposed to only be able to access this area on War or Apocalypse difficulty, but even on Conflict I was able to stroll right in, so hey.

The demons within Twisted Tokyo are of the same sort as those in YHVH’s Universe: high level compared to normal, not recruitable or otherwise capable of being negotiated with, and perpetually unable to be scanned (so keep those past weaknesses and resistances in your head).


Eventually, you can find your way around this mapless maze and find doors like this one. You need a key (rather confusingly named a Twisted Ticket) to open them, though, so hopefully you found the key first! And just who could be past this foreboding edifice?

David’s origins are twofold. First, his design: it’s based on one of the illustrations of the Dance of Death in our old friend the Dictionnaire Infernal. Second, his name: this is referential to the Davydov Stradivarius, a cello created by the famed Antonio Stradivari and given to the similarly famed cellist Karl Davydov. If you’re lucky, you can even get the legendary cello itself as a drop from David, but more on that later.

The fear of death changes its form many times!

Just like me!

While he may be the weakest of the Fiends, David is still a Fiend nonetheless, and he won’t go down without a fight. He’s resistant to Fire, Ice, Light, and Dark, and is weak to Electricity.

All Fiends, from David all the way to the final Fiend, have the skills Dekaja, Dekunda, Smile Charge, and Soul Drain. On top of these, David has Agidyne, Bufudyne, Mamudoon, Dormina, Eternal Rest, Makarakarn, Makarabreak, and this unique skill.

the baleful tune of Haunting Rhapsody combines Debilitate with a chance to induce Panic.

45,000 HP of damage is needed to destroy David. If you’ve got a lot of electrical conductivity and resistance to ailments, he’s not particularly threatening at this level.


After defeating David on floor B2, we can descend further, eventually reaching B5 to find our next boss door.

The matador (literally “the slayer”) was once the celebrity of the bullfighting ring, both the main act and the one whose blade was meant to kill the bull. Another important part of the matador’s style is acrobatics and showmanship with their crimson red capote, popularized in the early 20th Century by Juan Belmonte, a matador from the Spanish region of Andalusia. Matador as a Fiend was introduced as a secret boss fight in Shin Megami Tensei II, an undead matador who has taken up the mantle of Death and slays humans rather than cattle.

You must be confident in your abilities to have made it this far.

Now, draw your blade. Let us dye this colosseum with blood!

El Matador does not fear the bull’s horns, being resistant to Physical as well as Gun, Dark, and Light. He is weak to Ice, however.

In addition to the Fiend-standard skills, Matador piles on the Physical, with Dark Sword, Hades Blast, Mist Rush, Mortal Jihad, and Titanomachia in his attack repertoire. He’s also got Taunt and Critical Eye to boost his own assault power even further. Don’t even think of bringing a demon that can ward off Physical or knows Tetrakarn, though, because Matador is our introduction to the nasty trick that all Fiends past David have.

What is described as “Pierce” on attack skills such as Akasha Arts, Trisagion, Deadly Wind, and Ice Age, party-wide piercing skills such as Will of Frost and Will of Thunder, and party members’ Awakened Powers breaks through Resist, Null, Drain, and relevant -karn shields; this means that Repel still works against it.

This is not the case with the Fiends’ passive Pierce skills. They’ll blow right through that Repel and deal damage normally. Unsurprisingly, Matador’s passive skill is Phys Pierce.

This ties in with his famed combat skill, the merciless Andalusia. This attack deals four to twelve strikes of heavy Physical damage to random foes. Which, if you aren’t keeping your team buffed/him debuffed, hurts quite a bit. If he’s feeling particularly rude, he’ll pull a Critical Eye before doing it too.

Matador has 50,000 HP to chop through before he faces his final curtain call. His high Strength build and propensity for critical hits means he can pull off a lot of damage. Defense buffs, Attack debuffs, and healing are your best friends here.


The next door, through labyrinthine floors with pulsating blue veins and an unpleasant-looking brown fog, is on floor B9.

The White Rider is the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He comes forth “conquering and to conquer”, wielding a bow and wearing a kingly crown. So, who is Conquest? Maybe he’s Jesus himself, or inversely he could be an Antichrist figure. Perhaps he’s Rome, opulent and imperialist. Turns out that interpretation of scripture isn’t clear-cut a lot of the time, who would have thought. Some works from the 20th Century onward, especially in pop culture, give him a complete makeover as Pestilence, but Shin Megami Tensei eschews this trend.

You must want to fight me.

Come, if you do not fear defeat. Do not disappoint me.

White Rider resist Light and Dark, drains Electricity, and is weak to Force.

White Rider has Gun Pierce and Elec Pierce as his passives, so his repertoire is logically mainly filled with Gun and Electric skills. His non-unique skills are the Fiend-standard ones, Heaven’s Bow, Grand Tack, Myriad Arrows, Thunder Gods, Thunder Reign, and Will of Thunder.

Oddly enough, his unique skill isn’t a Gun attack. God’s Bow is almost the same as Hamaon, but always acts as an instakill regardless of whether or not he’s Smirking.

Let us settle this next time we meet… I will certainly be the victory then! Kakakaka!

At 56,282 HP of damage dealt to him, White Rider…tells us off?

And kicked us out of the dungeon! This is actually a rude surprise when fighting the Fiends: if you can’t beat them in ten turns, you get booted out of Twisted Tokyo. While it didn’t happen with David and Matador, it’s more likely to happen from here on out. I just won’t show it, because that’d be monotonous.

While you do have to trek back down a few floors and get the Twisted Ticket to open the door again, which is who knows where since the floor layout is randomized, the most important thing is that the bosses’ health remains how you left it. And in White Rider’s case, that was around 60,000 or so.


Deep in the recesses of floors of red tubes and green fog, floor B14 gives us our fourth Fiend.

Another one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Red Rider is the incarnation of war, possibly civil war or mass murder in particular. He is a sword-wielding herald of violence and unrest.

It seems our paths have crossed.

Do not regret crossing my bloody path.

A true wordsmith, that Red Rider.

The blood-stained warrior resists Gun, Light, and Dark, repels Fire, and is weak to Ice.

Fiend-standard skills, Fatal Sword, Maragidyne, Trisagion, and Will of Flame make up Red Rider’s non-unique skillset. Red Rider gains both Phys Pierce and Fire Pierce.

One of Red Rider’s two unique skills is Blade of Terror. This deals one to five strikes of heavy Physical damage on random foes, has Pierce (the standard sort, not the passive skill sort), and has a strong chance of inflicting Panic.

The other is Ruinous Brand, which is a single-target severe Physical attack. Nothing particularly fancy, just upfront damage.

And after 62,000 HP of damage, he too has passed. With Red Rider fallen, we are specifically halfway through the Fiends, so it’s time to bail out of this dungeon, grind out macca, and fuse those first four Fiendish foes.


It probably won’t surprise you that all of the Fiends are special fusions. For David, it’s a triple sacrifice of Apsaras, Lakshmi, and Naga. Leveling him up unlocks the skills Smile Charge and Mamudoon at levels 83 and 84 respectively.

Matador’s fused from a special quad fusion of Catoblepas, Qing Niuguai, Macabre, and Stonka. You’d think Macabre would have been one of the prerequisites for David, given that they are both the Dance of Death, but it is what it is. Leveling him up gets you Dark Sword at level 88, Hades Blast at level 89, and Phys Pierce at level 90.

White Rider’s a fusion of Matador and Kresnik. His unlocked skills from leveling are Thunder Reign at level 90, Heaven’s Bow at 91, Gun Pierce at 92, and Elec Pierce at 93.

And in turn, White Rider is combined with Inferno and Vivian to create Red Rider. By leveling him further, you get Trisagion at level 92, Ruinous Brand at level 93, and Fire Pierce at level 94.

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#153

It is so much nicer to get the Fiends by just dealing with this uninspired bonus dungeon than what was done in 4.

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#154

Down on floor B20, we’ve got Black Rider. He’s the carrier of a pair of scales, with which he rations out wheat and barley based on a worker’s denarius (a day’s wage). Pretty obviously an allegory for famine, right? Well, depending on who you ask, he could also mean the reflection of Christ’s justice in the interpretation of the Four Horsemen as aspects of Jesus, or the greed of the aristocracy in the interpretation of them as a critique of Roman imperialism.

Fiends attract death.

You must die. It is the guidance of the scales.

Black Rider resists Light and Dark, drains Ice, and is weak to Fire.

On top of Fiend-standard skills, Antichthon, Glacial Blast, Ice Age, Megidolaon, and Will of Frost, Black Rider has three unique skills. Pressuring Stance is one of them, acting as an upgrade to Imposing Stance by removing two Press Turns rather than one.

Soul Divide works as a combination of Megidolaon, Makajamaon, and Sukunda all in one.

And lastly, Calibrate is a three-in-one Sukukaja.

60,000 HP of judgment-punching later, and Black Rider is gone. As his Fire weakness can’t be exploited if you’re all Muted up, you’re going to want a curative for when Soul Divide gets you down. Dekaja’s also good for cleaning up that sizeable evasion buff from Calibrate, but I feel like it goes without saying that you’d want a Dekaja/Dekunda demon with you in Twisted Tokyo anyway.


Down in the blue-tinged depths of B27, the final Horseman (but not our final Fiend, of course) appears. Pale Rider is Death himself. Following him on his ride is the underworld, ready to accept the bodies of those who have been slain. War, famine, plague, death from wild animals? All come to the Pale Rider in the end. While he’s often depicted wielding a scythe, this isn’t universal; 15th Century printmaker Albrecht Durer depicted the Pale Rider wielding a trident, for instance, while early 20th Century architect Arnaldo Dell’Ira has him wielding a whip or flog.

Death must have taken a liking to you.

Now… Show me how much you can withstand my power. I will test you!

Pale Rider resists Ice, Light, and Dark, repels Force, and is weak to Electricity.

Pale Rider likes his super-buff and super-Pierce-enabled Deadly Wind. A lot. He’ll sometimes even use it for all three of his Press Turns on a turn. Other existing skills he has are the Fiend-standard ones obviously, Bind Voice, Blight, Debilitate, Mazandyne, Pandemic Bomb, and Will of Wind. You may notice a theme of a lot of Ailment skills in there.

That’s because of his unique skill, Pestilence. This Physical attack has the Pierce effect on it and normally deals weak damage to all party members. If you’ve got any ailment, though, that damage will be upped to severe.

In spite of his plagues and pestilence, however, Pale Rider nonetheless falls at 65,000 or so HP. Few demons this far in are highly susceptible to Sick, but check before you get wrecked nonetheless. A leveled up Samyaza’s a pretty good choice in general for this fight, as he’s got Electricity affinity without being weak to Force, deals a lot of damage with magical skills, and is immune to Mute in case Pale Rider somehow decides that Bind Voice is the right choice of action.


At a staggering 36 floors down, we reach the realm of Trumpeter. He’s effectively a representation of the seven trumpet-bearing angels of the Book of Revelation. After seven apocalyptic seals are broken, these angels sound seven trumpets (some translations call these out as specifically being traditional Jewish shofar, trumpets made from ram’s horn) to bring further ruin. From the first trumpet comes blood, fire, and hail that blights a third of all plant life, from the second is a flaming mountain that careens into the ocean and turns a third of it to blood, from the third is a star of wormwood that poisons a third of the world’s freshwater, from the fourth is enveloping darkness for a third of the day that can’t be pierced by any celestial body, from the fifth are demonic locusts from the pit of Abaddon, from the sixth are 200,000,000 warriors astride fire-breathing steeds, and from the seventh and final trumpet is the announcement of the Millennium Kingdom of the Lord.

The fanfare of the end times will play soon. The time when the world will end is night.

So you will die without seeing the end. Fall into the demonic procession, as you wish.

Oh jeeze.

So…seven Trumpeters, since there’s seven trumpet-sounding angels in the Book of Revelation. The horde’s level 97 and resists everything but Gun and Physical, the former of which they’re weak to.

Trumpeter has a massive skill repertoire. On top of the Fiend favorite Soul Drain, the group’s got Great Logos, the quadruple elemental attacks of Mabufudyne, Maragidyne, Mazandyne, and Maziodyne with the “Will of [x]” skills relevant to all four, Magaon, Silent Prayer, Smile Charge, and Tetrakarn.

He also has the unique skill Evil Melody. This is an all or (almost) nothing that is usually a weak Almighty attack to only one foe, but turns into a guaranteed instant kill if Smirking. Even after several fights with him where I put a tempting elemental weakness bait demon on my party, I never got a screenshot of it, as Trumpeter’s AI seems to prefer those target-all attacks. If he uses Smile Charge on himself, he pretty much always leverages that Smirk to get the best out of Soul Drain’s HP and MP recovery.

You can judge how far you are in the battle by how many Trumpeters you’ve destroyed, just like in normal Horde battles.

The horde has around 120,000 or so HP. While that initial flood of angels may seem scary, they’re not too bad as long as you’ve got your weaknesses covered, have a designated Smirk remover on board, and can deal a load of Gun damage. You know, the usual boss precautions. Shiva with inherited High Gun Pleroma and Riot Gun, or Seraph or Kartikeya out of the box, are all good choices for eating up the Trumpeter Horde’s health.


Heading down even further, there’s an unfortunate twist: enemies are no longer low enough level to be warded off by the Enemy Match-Up app. Other than having more fights between you and getting further down this tower maze, though, nothing’s really different. So head down, and down, and down…

And at B46, we reach the last of the Fiends. The Mother of Harlots, also referred to as Babylon the Great and the Great Whore, is yet another figure from the Book of Revelation. She is portrayed as a woman wearing vibrant purple and scarlet clothing adorned in jewelry, holding a sin-filled golden goblet as she rides atop the seven-headed Beast of Revelation. The identity of the Mother of Harlots is, as with most metaphors from Revelation, debated; some say she represents the tyranny of imperial Rome or the disgrace of a fallen Jerusalem, while many Protestant faiths over the centuries have pointed the finger at the Catholic Church as being the identity of this Great Whore.

The seven seals have been opened.

Now, let us begin the banquet of death.

On top of being level 99, Mother Harlot’s pretty durable in general. She’s resistant to Light and Dark, nullifies Physical, drains Electricity, and is weak to Force.

On top of Antichthon, Ice Age, Thunder Gods, Trisagion, Tetrakarn, Makarakarn, Concentrate, Dekaja, Dekunda, Smile Charge, and Soul Drain, Mother Harlot has two unique skills to use in her fight. Death Lust deals weak Almighty damage to your party, but “weak” damage for Mother Harlot is still a fair bit thanks to her huge Magic stat and +6 Almighty affinity. The skill also has a decent chance of inflicting Charm.

The other is Babylon Goblet, which deals medium Almighty damage and has a chance of inflicting Panic.

Assuming you’ve got demons resistant or immune to her afflictions, a strong healer, and a demon with Zandyne or Deadly Wind, Mother Harlot’s 80,000~ HP and huge Almighty attacks can’t save her forever.


After slaying Mother Harlot, the Pale Man’s voice returns, now in the depths of Twisted Tokyo rather than its entrance.

> You can hear the pale man, but you don’t see him…

You cannot see me, because I don’t exist as an individual entity.

I am a guide who brings messiahs to Twisted Tokyo. That is all I exist to do…

You, the messiah, have eliminated all Fiends in Twisted Tokyo who brought death with them.

The system of death in Twisted Tokyo has disappeared…

And that’s where things would normally end…

…But a certain piece of DLC means we have one final challenge.

Now, I will guide you to the farthest edge…

Beyond even Mother Harlot, we reach a new level of this bleak underworld. The demons here are all the strongest of their kind, rivaling the random encounters in the final Brane of YHVH’s Universe.

You can even get a particularly noteworthy random encounter in the floors leading downward from here. This level 99 Mot is a callback to Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, performing almost the same actions as the boss fight against the Mesopotamian lord of the dead in that game. Namely, he has the skill Guardian Eye – seen nowhere else in Apocalypse, of course – that grants him three Press Turns, which he uses to cast Makakaja twice before using Antichthon. Have fun with possibly encountering this guy multiple times on your way to the final Fiend.


And there he is, En no Ozuno. This guy goes way back in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. He appeared as an NPC in Shin Megami Tensei and Shin Megami Tensei II and as a secret Fiend boss in Shin Megami Tensei: If…, and then sort of just disappeared until now. He doesn’t even have any official Kaneko artwork to reference, so don’t expect to be getting this demon to fuse after he’s defeated.

En no Ozunu, or En no Gyoja, is a Japanese folkloric figure said to have lived in the time of Emperor Monmu. In the imperial history known as the Shoku Nihongi, En no Ozunu is described as a mountain-dwelling monk with power over demons and vast knowledge of sutras and herbs. His title of Dai-Bosatsu – Great Bodhisattva – was given to him in 1799, a millennium after his purported death. He is also credited as being the founder of the syncretic mountain religion of Shugendo.

I see that you are here to test your strength.

I am always training. I wish to test my strength as well.

Let us fight to see who is the strongest!

As with YHVH, En no Ozuno breaks the level barrier. This adversarial ascetic is resistant to Gun, Light, and Dark, repels Fire and Electricity, and is weak to Physical. Yes, Physical. This is actually better than he had it in If…, wherein he was weak to Gun and all of that game’s various types of melee damage.

En no Ozuno wields Antichthon, Maragidyne, Thunder Gods, Thunder Reign, Trisagion, Will of Flame, Will of Thunder, Dekaja, Smile Charge, Soul Drain, Tetrakarn, and three unique skills. Not one to go small, is he?

The first of those unique skills, Zenki’s Axe, is two hits of severe Physical damage to random targets. It’s also got Pierce.

The second is Goki’s Water Wall, which acts as three simultaneous castings of Sukukaja and Rakukaja.

And last, but certainly not least, is the tricky Peacock Incantation. The first attack you make after this skill is cast will be returned in full as Almighty damage to every member of your party. Poke him with your weakest attack to get this out of the way, then get right back to wailing on him.

Expect to see his “your time’s up” message at least once, and maybe a few more. Having a common weakness doesn’t make En no Ozuno any less powerful. The aggravation of failure is punctuated by having to go back down those eleven floors of twisting, turning pathways.

A tip, though: En no Ozuno’s actually susceptible to Dizzy, so you can rob him of a Press Turn or two that way. Having a demon with ridiculous Physical damage output such as Shiva doesn’t hurt either.

You’re alright, mister. Next time, I won’t hold back.

…Of course, even with this strategy, you may be forced out by the time limit. Again. But if you do, you get a different message this time!

En no Ozuno weighs in at a pretty chufty 130,000 or so HP. Peacock Incantation is his big trick, but if you know about it beforehand you can circumvent it without having a massive amount of HP damage thrown back in your face. Dekaja is also vastly preferrable to Debilitate in this fight simply because of how fast Ozuno can buff himself with Goki’s Water Wall.


> You hear the voice of the pale man who guided you to Twisted Tokyo.

I didn’t think you’d defeat that ascetic as well… I am very impressed.

You have conquered Twisted Tokyo as a messiah of infinity.

Your infinity will erode Twisted Tokyo and the world will be rebuilt.

You are not of Twisted Tokyo. Thus, you will be rejected from it soon…

> As soon as the pale man finishes speaking, you are enveloped in light.

> When you open your eyes, you find yourself where you were before.

Now, Twisted Tokyo is forever. Here, everything will return to eternity.

Now you can battle as long as you want.

Now, Messiah. Create a thousand dead bodies and bury another ten thousand…

Twisted Tokyo will regenerate endlessly to quench your thirst.

What this means is that you can go back through the dungeon again and again, the Fiends gaining in levels (and eventually far surpassing the level cap) as you do so.

A big thing I haven’t covered until now is that the Fiends do all have rare drops that are extremely powerful, but these only appear on New Game+ and aren’t guaranteed to drop. So rather than try in vain to get them, I’ll just list out the lot right here.

  • David drops the Stradavari, a unique pistol with a base Attack stat of 660 and +90 Dexterity boost.
  • Matador drops the Phasing Staff, a blunt target-all melee weapon with a base Attack stat of 517, a +50 boost to Strength, Agility, and Luck, and a chance to inflict Panic.
  • White Rider drops Fantasista, an accessory that gives +273 MP, resistance to all four elemental damage types, and a free Victory Cry at the start of a battle.
  • Red Rider drops the Chaos Sword, a sword melee weapon that has 985 base Attack and +90 Strength. No fancy effect, just immense brute force.
  • Black Rider drops the Restraining Scales, an accessory that grants +273 MP, Null Phys and Null Gun, and the normally demon-only passive skill Bloody Glee (heavily boosts your chance of landing critical hits).
  • Pale Rider drops the Reaping Blade, a dagger type melee weapon that deals one to three strikes on a single target and has 280 base Attack, +60 Strength, and a chance of instant kill.
  • Trumpeter drops the Angel’s Trumpet, a bazooka that deals one to nine strikes to random foes and has 96 base Attack and +60 Dexterity.
  • Mother Harlot drops the Babylon Ring, an accessory with +273 MP that makes you immune to all Ailments and gives one free Endure per battle.
  • And finally, En no Ozuno himself drops the Neophyte’s Rosary, the ultimate accessory for any damage race aficionado. It gives +273 and provides High [x] Pleroma for all damage types as well as Healing.

Black Rider is a special fusion of Red Rider, Abaddon, and Arsiel. Leveling him up gets you the skills Glacial Blast at level 94, Megidolaon at level 95, and Ice Pierce at level 96.

Pale Rider is a special fusion of Black Rider, Girimehkala, and Kudlak. Pale Rider gains Deadly Wind at level 96, Debilitate at level 97, and Force Pierce at level 98.

Trumpeter is a quadruple special fusion of all four Riders. Yep, all four of 'em. You may notice I didn’t give him his own unique skill, and that’s because what is effectively an Almighty damage Mudo isn’t going to get us anywhere this far in the game. Getting him to his final level unlocks Great Logos for his skill list.

Mother Harlot, the last of the Fiends we can fuse, is another quad fusion. This one’s of Ishtar, Legion, Orcus, and Trumpeter.

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#155

Before we get to the actual content, let’s say hello to a couple new demons that are gonna be pulling their weight a fair bit during the four DLC missions.

Fused from Chi You and Tezcatlipoca, the Demiurge is a magical combat powerhouse. He gains Chakra Walk at level 96, Null Mind at level 97, and Drain Light at level 98.

While the term ‘Demiurge’ was originally used by Plato to describe the perfect creator of an imperfect world, the later Gnostic theologians would repurpose the name for their vision of a creator of the material world that either unconsciously or willingly entraps us in a physical lie that must be breached to seek the spiritual oneness of the true Supreme Creator. Names for the Demiurge across various strains of Gnosticism include Nebro, Satan, Yaldabaoth, Samael, and even YHVH.

This Samael was my most convoluted fusion, having started out with me fusing Huang Di with Kingu to make Quetzalcoatl, then Quetzalcoatl with Tattooed Man which to make Tiamat, Tiamat and Zhu Tun She to create Flaemis, and finally that Flaemis with Botis to make a Samael with Repel Light rather than a Light weakness. Through leveling, Samael gains the skills Doping at level 91, Salvation at level 92, and Repel Dark at level 93. Always fun to have a Dark-focused demon that’s also decent at healing and buffing, breaking those trends.

Samael is a figure that appears in Jewish theological literature in several forms. He is the prosecutor of humanity, either equivalent to or synonymous with Satan depending on the particular source, and brings with him the venom that leads to mortality. He is also the serpent of Eden and mate of Lilith, with whom he spawned legions of demons, and will eventually be defeated and enslaved by Michael. Conversely, he could also be a guardian angel and the force that crashed the Red Sea down on the Egyptian armies during the Exodus. Yet again, it turns out that millennia of traditions can lead to a varying tapestry of beliefs. Outside of Judaism, he is a powerful demon in Christian demonology and one of the possible names of the Demiurge as noted above.


> One day, when Nanashi was on his own…

The DLC sidequests start like this, presumably because they all have narratives surrounding them that make it difficult to place in any specific part of the game…

> After accepting a quest, Nanashi equipped his gear and went to visit Asahi.

If she comes back, I’ll let her know you stopped by.

> It seems Asahi left a few days ago and hasn’t returned yet…

> You decide to handle this quest alone.

Not even gonna put up a token search for her? Okay, champ.

> There is a building shaped like an inverted pyramid. It is surrounded by roses.

This is, in fact, an actual building. It’s the conference tower of the Tokyo International Exhibition Center – more commonly referred to as the Tokyo Big Sight – a convention center on the shores of Tokyo Bay.

Look at the roses, kid. The roots. Hmph. Whoever runs this place has good taste.

> You look at the roots.

>You see hundreds of dried out bodies wrapped in bandages.

Apparently, new Dagda has the same personality as the old Dagda, because that’s some pretty grim imagery to joke about. Or this is before we killed old Dagda. Who knows? Time and space are meaningless in the DLC Zone.

…They’re mummies.

The roses all seem to be blooming from the bodies of the mummified corpses.

> You continue on past the rose garden and the mummy seedbeds.

> You can’t make out much detail, of course, since they’re bound in bandages.

You see it, too.

They’re all missing different body parts.

I wonder what’s going on here…

Sob Is someone there…?

> You hear a familiar voice.

If you’re there… Please answer… Please…I can’t move…

> You continue through the mummies, following the faint voice.

> Before long, you come across a close friend among the mummies.

I have no idea why they’re saying “the girl” here, as if we don’t know who Asahi is this far into the game.

Nanashi! Is it really you, Nanashi?

> You nod, watching as tears well up in Asahi’s eyes.

You came…Nanashi… Sob Thank you…

I was so scared… I thought I was done for… Sob

Can’t have you doing that…

I need that girl to return to this world, to make myself a new god – the true ruler…

She no longer belongs to you…

Hey! Only I get to decide that!

That’s right!

> The demon points at Asahi’s thigh.

> The numbers 1465 are carved into her skin.

Proof that you’re just a part. Specifically, which number part you are.

1465… Incidentally, the last one we need to revive Her Grace.

The number 1,465 is, according to the game itself, referencing 1,465 gods memorialized in stone at the temple of Aset/Isis in Philae.

What do you mean, "part"? What are you talking about?

Don’t worry yourself about such things. This is all to bring back our queen – our pharaoh!

Her Grace is finally regaining her original form after all this time…

Long has this been our desire – since before the angels or the demons appeared!

I will end any who get in our way.


The Egyptian horde, a prelude to the actual boss of this DLC, nullifies Electricity and Force, drains Gun and Dark, repels Light, and is weak to Ice. I’ve got Nanashi and Demiurge packing Ice Age and Shiva refused with Cold World for this reason.

The Egyptian Horde is capable of using Ancient Curse, Mudoon, and Judgment Light, as well as two unique skills called Grave Judgment and Royal Curse. Grave Judgment is merely a Megido that upgrades its damage by one stage per ailment the target is suffering. Royal Curse strikes two or three foes with heavy Almighty damage and inflicts Brand. What, you thought they’d leave that on just YHVH?

Still, the 24,000 HP Egyptian Horde falls fairly fast if you’ve got a maxed out party. Before they die, however, they let out the name of their master.

I’m sorry… Lady Cleopatra…


> You won, but you can’t lower your guard just yet…

> You can sense something fierce, something hostile, coming toward you.

I did not intend to return in an incomplete body, but I suppose I have no choice now…

> A smoke-like mass builds around the mummy farthest in.

Cleopatra Philopator is one of the most famous figures of Roman Egypt, and I’m not going to insult your intelligence by acting like she’s some obscure historical figure or anything. You probably know the basics: she was one of the last rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty of pharaohs, had personal and political relationships with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, and both her rule and her life ended after a disastrous conflict with future Roman emperor Octavian. Modern culture mainly recognizes her for her sex appeal (which is pretty reductive, to say the least) and her apocryphal suicide by snake bite (which is probably not in fact how she died at all), both of which show up in her design from Masayuki Doi. And that sure is…uhh…yeah it’s a design alright. It’s also yet another case where one of Doi’s preliminary designs outshines the final product. Why is this such a running theme for so many of his designs in Apocalypse? I don’t know.

> Cleopatra’s oppressive aura makes the hair on your skin rise.

Apologies… I’m not quite used to this new body.

She’s beautiful… But…I can feel her evil. Nanashi, she’s…not normal.

> Cleopatra lets out a long, deep sigh.

I’ve been waiting for this moment a long, long time - ever since I lost my original body.

But now, these 1,465 souls shall transform me into a new god, allowing me to bring peace to this world.

With these souls, I shall lead the people.

The last thing I needed was that girl’s nose…

This nose obsession may seem weird, and that’s because it is weird. But it’s also a reference to Jansenist theologian Blaise Pascal, he of the eponymous wager, who in his work Pensées wrote “Cleopatra’s nose: had it been shorter, the whole aspect of the world would have been altered”.

It doesn’t matter what you think. The only thing that matters is whether a god inhabits it…

For ages, I have slowly gathered the pieces I needed for a new body – a body that can contain a god.

Gods are the essence of beauty…

> Cleopatra doesn’t seem to regard you very seriously.

But there’s still time… Give the child to me…

If you do, I shall let you live. I might even make you one of my priests, if you like.

> You push Asahi behind you, guarding her.

Nanashi… Thanks.

This place shall be my new holy land. As pharaoh, I shall secure new peace in this world.

If you oppose me, I will destroy you without hesitation or remorse.

No one shall stand in my way!


Boss Battle!: Cleopatra :crossed_swords:

Most demons based on real people end up in either the Famed or Foul race, depending on their legacy, but Cleopatra here breaks the mold by being the most powerful demon of the Megami race in Apocalypse. She resists Fire, Ice, Force, and Electricity, drains Light, and is weak to Dark.

For existing skills, she is capable of pulling out Luster Candy, Will of Frost, and Will of Wind to help herself, Dekaja to clean off your buffs, and Megidolaon, Mabufudyne, Mazandyne, Deadly Wind, and Ice Age to deal damage.

One of her three unique skills is Dazzle Ray, which deals severe Light damage to one foe and is a guaranteed instakill on Smirk.

Adaptive Tactics is some Inanna-style weakness rewriting. After she’s cast it, hitting her current weakness will cause her to gain another weakness at random, even to her normally drained Light. Take note of the message given when you hit the current weakness, as it briefly lists what her weakness changes to.

Finally, there’s Alluring Banter. It’s essentially three Rakundas plus Charm, but is thankfully only single target.

31,500 or so HP is the chunk of health you need to rip through to defeat Cleopatra. Due to her rotating weakness, it’s pretty much impossible to recommend a particular damage type for your party; just pack the biggest guns you have in a variety of elements, as well as your standard healer and debuffer.

You weren’t saving people…

No one who chops people up for their parts could ever save anyone!

You know not of what you speak… I am pharaoh… Queen of Kings…

I would sooner die by my own hands…

Than lose to the likes of you two!

> Cleopatra takes her own life.

>Cleopatra’s remains crumble to dust.

Hmph. What a twisted woman.

Beauty can lead to excess. She lost sight of that.

Don’t lose sight of what you’re supposed to protect, kid. Well, I suppose that’s not something I need to worry about.

> Asahi hugs you from behind.

Thank you, Nanashi! Thank you for saving me…

Let’s go, kid. There’s nothing left for us here.


As there’s no post-sidequest thanks message from the Hunter’s Association for the DLC quests, we end off with the fusion of Cleopatra herself. She’s a three-way fusion of Phoenix, Sarasvati, and Sphinx; my Sphinx in particular was made from Heimdall combined with that Samael mentioned at the start of the post so that I could pass on Repel Dark. You can fuse a Cleopatra with Adaptive Tactics if you want, but I see no reason to.

With Cleopatra, you may have noticed we now have all Pierce passives except for Pierce Dark. And hm, look at that, one of the three remaining DLC missions is another big alignment boss…

2 Likes

#156

I know it’s blasé by this point, but I really, really am sorry that updates slipped yet again. Life’s been…a lot. I swear that come hell or high water, barring circumstances that physically prevent me from being able to update, this LP will finish this month.

Mephistopheles, alternatively dubbed Mephistophilis or simply Mephisto, is a Germanic demon tied to the legend of Faust/Faustus. The literary Faust is the fictionalization of the real world alchemist Johann Georg Faust, mocked and demonized posthumously through German chapbooks (cheap street literature of the day) starting in the 16th Century. In these tales, Faust has grown despondent with his lot in life, and seeks infernal aid to gain knowledge and pleasure in amounts greater than he could on his own. The demon Mephistopheles takes him up on the offer, though not without reason – namely, a bet with God, Book of Job style – and gives Faust twenty-four years of extreme living before his soul will be claimed for Hell.

Faust proceeds on a whirlwind journey of disastrous events that end badly for the wayward scholar and those around him. In the end, Faust’s fate depends on what version of the story you’re reading; either he goes to Hell as the bargain entailed, or the archangels intercede at the behest of both God and one of Faust’s ill-fated but kind lovers.

Mephisto is one of Masayuki Doi’s best demon designs, mostly in its simplicity and referential nature to what came before him. The garb worn by the bargainer from Hell is pretty much accurate to actual costumes created for use in plays and operas adapted from the Faust story, as well as masquerade ball designs created by 19th Century Parisian dressmaker Léon Sault.

Then allow me to show you the hospitality your heart desires…

“Stay, thou art so beautiful”. This shall be the phrase that signals the end.

Utter this, and I shall receive payment. Now, if you don’t mind -

Let’s form a contract.

You can wisely choose to say “Stay, thou art so beautiful” right from the get-go, pissing Mephistopheles off and starting the fight immediately. But since we’re in the business of suffering, it’s time to accept a bad contract.

> Form a contract.

Excellent… I am Mephisto. I shall show you a world unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

The place shall be… Let’s see. Do you know of the island Hawaii?

Blue sea, white sands… This place was once a paradise, before the world burned.

Let’s be off. Look now, watch as a world beyond Tokyo you’ve never known unfolds…

And with that, the screen fades to black.

Hey, wake up, Leader.

Oh, by the way, this is the beach episode of this game. Welcome to the cursed realm!

The sun’s so bright here in Hawaii. We need to stay hydrated.

That’s what Gaston said, anyway. He’s being surprisingly thoughtful.

Nice goggles.

I went out of my way to get you that water. You should all be thanking me.

You know, I was just about to…

Nevermind. Thanks, Gaston.

Hmph… It was nothing.

You see, the joke is he drowned, so in this fantasy land he has to wear a floatie. Laugh, damnit.

> A young man you don’t recognize approaches you, his demeanor friendly.

Do you guys know who this is?

It’s my brother.

What? This is Navarre?! Hahahaha!

He’s still got the pompadour!

This is weird?! You’ve dealt with the ghost but you find this strange.

Hey, Nanashi!

Th-th-th-that’s…

Thanks, I hate it.

I can handle this… I can handle this!

Your eye’s twitching, Gaston.

Shut up.

Hey, Nanashi – how’s my swimsuit look? It’s not too much, is it?

It’s perfect, like the sun cresting a mountain on a warm summer morning.

> Asahi ducks behind you.

Hey, Nanashi – you know that guy?

Wha?! Guhhh…! It’s Navarre!

Is this the true nature of the Faustian bargain? To be damned, not in soul, but in mind?

But…

> Nozomi and Toki stride up, their style polar opposites.

I don’t think I can handle this.

I hope you’re talking about Nozomi, Navarre. Please.

Is that what a grown woman is supposed to look like?

What?

You guys are enjoying this way too much.

C’mon, Toki. Stop hiding behind me.

Oh, please. That’s not important, so don’t worry about it.

It’s easy for you to say. You’re all curves…

Ah, c’mon!

> Nozomi steps aside and pushes Toki forward.

Wha?! Huh?!

There. Can’t stay embarassed now that everyone’s seen ya.

?!

H-How do I look, Master?

To what end, Mephistopheles? What do you gain from this?

What the heck is up with you two?

N-Nothing…

Gaston, your nose is bleeding.

Shut up.

So, which suit do you like best?

Asahi’s got so much energy.

Me… Well, I don’t need to say anything about myself…

And isn’t Toki cute? I should have brought my camera!

We could go even further, getting some dumb dialogue about our choice and a weird encounter with a sea cucumber puking its guts in Nanashi’s hand, after which the scene loops and loops forever until you actually say “Stay, thou art so beautiful” and exit the worst Groundhog Day. At this point, though, it’s best to put ourselves out of this misery. Let’s get revenge on Mephisto for all this bullshit.

Stay, thou art so beautiful.

I see… You wish to end things here. Very well. The contract is complete.

> Darkness settles around you and Mephisto.

"Stay, thou art so beautiful"… Last time, a god interrupted me.

But in this space I’ve created, no one can interfere with me…

As per our arrangement, I shall collect our payment.

Now, hand over your soul!

Sorry, bud, you have to get in line for that.


:crossed_swords: Boss Battle! Mephistopheles :crossed_swords:

He thought himself unable to achieve true happiness, and in the end still clung to his life, incomplete as it may be…

Had only the angels not gotten in the way, then… Well, this time shall be different.

Resist me as much as you please. It will only entertain me more!

Before we can even get the fight started properly, Nanashi crumples to the ground and Mephistopheles begins to gloat.

Did you really think things would just end with pleasant thoughts? Don’t make me laugh…

Your fleeting happiness shall soon be replaced with a weighty emptiness!

I’m afraid I can’t allow that… Hurry up and snap out of it, kid.

Like I said.

Who dares enter MY world without permission?

Your limited imagination isn’t much different than reality. Is there really any cause for me to introduce myself?

Someone as lowly as you…DARES speak to me like that?

You’re as insufferable as those angels. No matter, I shall emerge victorious.

I know what the future holds, for me. You, however, will enter eternal rest at my feet.

I long for a toy that can amuse me eternally…

You shall remain here forever – or until I grow bored of you.

Mephisto nullifies Physical and Gun, drains Dark, and is weak to Light. While all of his stats are pretty high, the largest amount of his points are put into Strength and Magic. Guy likes to go on the offense.

Just as Cleopatra had super-Pierce for Light, Mephisto has it for Dark. Existing skills he has access to are Earthquake, Hades Blast, and Mamudoon.

He also has three unique skills. Fear Darkness is the Dark version of Cleopatra’s Dazzle Ray, dealing severe Dark damage and being guaranteed to instakill on a Smirk.

Dark Photon lets Mephisto temporarily gain Resist Light, nothing more complicated.

Finally, there’s Growing Hate. This attack deals severe Almighty damage to all targets, and deals even more damage than that per step of resistance to Dark the enemy has. Since he can Pierce through any type of resistance with his Dark skills already, this skill only exists as a further punishment, and unfortunately I couldn’t bait him into using it even after fighting him repeatedly with a party of demons all outfitted with Repel Dark.


To use the cliché terminology, Mephisto is a glass cannon, making up for only around 40,000 or so HP by dealing out immense amounts of damage. The easiest way of dealing with him is through whatever demon you like casting Luster Candy and Debilitate while Cleopatra spams Dazzle Ray; it turns out that having no non-combat skills besides a single weakness covering one leaves you opening to being clowned on, who’d have thought? Your only real danger is if he brings out that Growing Hate before you can debuff him, but that’s a big if assuming you’re on standard difficulty. On Apocalypse difficulty, he’ll probably throw it out a bit more liberally if his AI doesn’t decide to just stare off into the clouds, but if you’re doing Apocalypse you’ve probably been min-maxing your demons and preparing contingency Endure skills anyway.

I’ve been made a fool… But alas, the contract is not yet up.

I shall stay by you until you finally achieve complete satisfaction.

In other words, he’s willing to tag along as a fusion.

Hmph. What a pathetic farce… Well, I suppose it was a nice escape, if nothing else.

I hope you didn’t get attached to that absurd fantasy.

Let’s get a move on.

Chase your so-called satisfying moments all you want once this is all over.

Mephisto’s special fusion is the triad of Loki, Lucifuge, and Shax. As he’s already level 99, he has no skills to gain from leveling up. You may also note that Growing Hate has a typo, claiming it’s based off of Light resistance instead of Dark. Whoops!

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#157

> This story takes place after Nanashi abandoned his allies and humanity…

While the Explosive Epidemic in Mikado DLC is explicitly an Anarchy route event, you can actually play the DLC on either route, presumably because it would be a dick move to have you pay money for something you then weren’t allowed to play. Chalk this up to another case of the DLCs being ephemeral events not necessarily tied to when you do them.

For this quest, you’ll want to bring your toughest level 99+ demons, and have high powered attacks that deal Fire, Dark, and Gun damage from both them and Nanashi. You’ll see why in a moment, but trust me when I say you’ll want to cut through as much HP as you can in the shortest time possible.

> You accept a new quest and head to the Sky Tower’s Wailing Gate.

The Wailing Gate being the huge one that is between the Sky Tower and Naraku.

> Samurai stand guard outside the gate.

A human? So, there indeed remains a few left in Tokyo.

Of course, that shall all soon change…

You have 25 turns left…

Well, that’s a bit metacontextual, isn’t it? But that is indeed the gimmick of Explosive Epidemic in Mikado: you have 25 rounds total to beat the entire DLC.

Just relax and take your time while fighting us… Before long, you’ll become the same as us!

But soon you shall be the same as us. Until then, why don’t I entertain you?

These shadowy foes are resistant to Light and otherwise neutral. Demonic Samurai can use the skills Dark Sword, Titanomachia, and Charge. They only have 3,000 HP, though, so we aren’t in the thick of things just yet. They’re wiped clean without any effort.

Hmph… The humans are turning into demons…

> Dagda waves his hand over the remains of the Samurai.

> He shakes his head and turns to you.

It’s no use… Their souls are leashed to another.

I suspect something strange’s going down in Mikado. Let’s push on.

Heading through the gate, Nanashi and Dagda get through Naraku without having to actually trek through it courtesy of narrative convenience.

> The scent of blood and burning flesh assaults your nose.

> A sharp-eyed Samurai runs out before you, as if waiting for you.

> The sharp-eyed Samurai glares at you.

I doubt you can do much alone.

You are a threat to our country, and it is my duty, as a Samurai, to protect this land.

> The sharp-eyed Samurai is openly hostile to you.

I am Hope. You have but 23 turns left to live…

I will show no mercy.


:crossed_swords: Boss Battle!: Demonic Hope :crossed_swords:

We are celestial beings, part human and part angel, now.

Our differences with you Unclean Ones are irreconcilable. All those who oppose Abbot Hugo must be eradicated!

Remember how Hope wavered in his faith of Merkabah during the fight in the Yamato Perpetual Reactor, as his genuine concern for humanity outweighed his loyalty to YHVH’s forces? Well, that Hope’s gone now. Fanatic Hope is now here in his stead.

As with the two chump change Demonic Samurai down in Naraku, Hope is resistant to Light. Unlike them, however, he has actual weaknesses: Dark and Fire.

On top of that familiar and still questionably named Mortal Jihad, Demonic Hope has two unique skills of his own…well, sort of. Revelation is technically unique in its name, but it is mechanically the same as YHVH’s Infinite Power. He used it for both of his Press Turns at the start of the fight here, which is odd given that you can’t exactly max out what’s already maxed out. Good work, Hope AI.

He also has Judgment Strike, which deals heavy Physical damage to all your party members and has a chance of inflicting Bind. Too bad for him he didn’t get a chance to use it.

Namely because he’s got a meager 20,000 HP, which is eaten through in a mere two turns with the immense power at our disposal.

You said your name is Nanashi, yes?

Heh… The Eastern Kingdom is Mikado is now filled with celestial beings…

It won’t be long before the Demon Gene infects everyone…

If you want to stop this, you need to find Abbot Hugo. He is in the Monastery…

> Hope dies before he can finish speaking.


That he did.

So, this Demon Gene is another of God’s twisted designs…

Regardless, we have no choice but to find this Hugo.

> Dagda releases an intense light into the sky.

> The light spreads over all of Mikado, then fades away.

I just…scanned is the word you’d use…all of Mikado.

Looks like everyone’s turned into demons. Except you.

Well, Nanashi’s sort of a demon already, really.

If my calculation’s right, things will get much, much worse in 21 turns.

When that happens, the infection will spread, and not even you will survive it.

Hoof it, kid… We need to find this Hugo fellow and stop the problem at its source before 21 turns.

Thankfully, turns don’t pass during times of narrative convenience, so one scene transition later and we’re in Obelisk Plaza.

Not so luckily, it seems there’s more speed bumps to run over on the way to Hugo thanks to these four.

Hehe, you’re here to find Abbot Hugo, aren’t you?

We will not let Filth like you near Abbot Hugo.

All who oppose Abbot Hugo must be purged! Die, Filth!

These guys are all resistant to Light and have around 2,800 HP each, but each one of the four has a different weakness and secondary resistance: the first one is weak to Ice and resistant to Fire, the second is weak to Fire and resistant to Ice, the third blocks Physical and is weak to Gun, and the fourth resists Wind and is weak to Dark. And as with the Samurai, they are dead pretty quick.

The first one just flails around with regular attaks, the second can use Fog Breath and Sukakaja, the third has Makarakarn, Pandemic Bomb, Rakukaja, and Tetrakarn, and the fourth has Frenzied Chomp, Megidolaon, and Purple Smoke.

Gah, how did this happen?! It’s too soon to feel safe…

All in the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado…are now awakened… Reinforcements are en route… Ugh…

Quite chatty for being so dead their sprites were already off the screen.

The incorporeal voice was right, though. Even more of these annoying adversaries are in our way.

We are the Abbot’s eyes and ears. Through us, he knows all.

Abbot Hugo shall lead us all to our awakening – even the Unclean Ones of Tokyo.

His will demands your eradication!

The Demonic Horde is made up of tons of Demonic Citizens and Samurai, as well as a few Wild Hunts for some reason? The horde’s resistant to Physical, Gun, and Light but weak to Fire. The horde uses Berserker God, Myriad Arrows, and Charge, and has a total of around 13,000 HP.

Defeating one Demonic Horde just leads into another, though, the second wave getting a preemptive strike and some Angels in its ranks. This one’s resistant to all elemental damage types and Light but weak to Gun. The horde’s skills are Agidyne, Bufudyne, Zandyne, Ziodyne, and Concentrate.

13 turns? Lucky me.

There’s the Monastery. Let’s hurry.

So, a filthy child, who thinks himself a god, managed to come this far. I’m impressed.

I was once Hugo, leader of the Monastery…

But now I am something more – a messenger of God, the hope of my citizens. Now I am Demonic Hugo…

Hehe, it appears you don’t fully grasp what you’ve wandered into…

Wery well. Allow me to illuminate the matter.

In contrast to the usual rules of RPGs, you actually lose a turn for listening to the whole of Hugo’s story. So in a normal run, you’d never want to accept his request here. Luckily, we have the power of multiple takes spliced into one.

The Demon Gene is a design of God’s…

Through it, I have been reborn as the Lord’s perfect servant…

I have transcended humanity – transcended even the archangels, who themselves could not fully purify the Filth.

> Hugo looks at you as though assessing you, then smiles.

Hehe… My power is now unparalleled by any but God…

Bolstered by my angelic genes, I’m more than any human. I need not hold back.

I’m free to rule over this world as a celestial being!

Hmph, how delusional. Enough of this, kid. Kill him now.

As with Hope, Hugo suddenly gets a severe case of dry eye as he goes full demon mode.

I now rival God. Do you truly believe a mere Unclean One such as yourself could possibly kill me?

> You point your weapon at Hugo.

You wish to fight me? Very well, I shall be your opponent.

Just know that there shall be no forgiveness for you, now.

> A massive surge of magical power erupts from Hugo!

Attack me all you like – my universe shall swallow you whole!

What do you know, he really does have a universe in there. It even sparkles in his animation.

Through me the Lord awakened the Demon Gene slumbering within us all.

If mere Unclean Ones believe themselves able to best me, I shall happily reveal to them their arrogance.


:crossed_swords: Boss Battle!: Demonic Hugo :crossed_swords:

Demonic Hugo nullifies Light and is weak to Dark. Fear Darkness tears right through him, so if you took the time to get Mephisto he’s a lifesaver here. My particular party was made up of him for Fear Darkness, Cleopatra for Salvation and Alluring Banter, and Shiva just for general really high damage numbers on any horde in his way.

Existing skills that Demonic Hugo makes use of are Riot Gun, Dekunda, and the same Revelation skill that Demonic Hope had. He also has several of his own, albeit with some just being renamed versions of other skills. Heavenly Punishment deals heavy Gun damage to all of your party, and also has the Debilitate and Pierce effects.

Evil-Crushing Flash is just Hamaon by another name.

Similarly, Irrational Glimmer is just a renamed Great Logos. Not to knock the game developers or anything, but it feels like the design team was running out of steam by this DLC.

After around 10,000 HP of damage taken, Hugo interrupts the fight to freak out.

I am Hugo…light of the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado! Hope of the people!

Hmph, transformed into an abomination for some futile goal… Pathetic.

What did you say?!

The kid here chose his path, but you threw yours away. This is what you get.

You claim your actions are for the people, but in truth you seize their very souls.

Admit it – you just wanted obedient pawns.

Quiet!

Nothing can stop me, now!

Go, my loyal soldiers! Destroy the Unclean Ones!

Disgusting. You claim to lead these people, yet hide behind them like a shield without hesitation.

You got my permission to kick their asses, kid.

> Dagda’s power courses through you.

> You and your demons’ stats greatly increase!

This is another of the Physical-oriented Demonic Hordes from before. Same stats, same Fire weakness, same ability to be ripped apart like tissue paper. They’re more or a stall tactic in the middle of the fight than an actual threat.

Brethren? Is that what you call people you discard like pawns? I find your camaraderie a little hard to believe.

What do you know? As leader, I am burdened with difficult responsibilities.

I receive God’s Word, and must interpret His will for all.

So long a I remain connected to the divine, my words are God’s Word!

It’s not your words that are the problem, it’s what you truly say through your actions.

Silence! You shall be consumed by my universe!

> Hugo is energized in battle by his fervor.

So both parties have now been Luster Candy’d to the max, and the fight begins anew. Hugo pulls out three more skills in his final futile turns as well, though he was only able to live long enough to use one.

Rather confusingly, the skill Bind doesn’t inflict the Bind ailment; it actually inflicts Brand, as well as fully decreases your Hit/Evasion.

The other two skills are similar debuffs. Nightmare fully decreases your Defense and has a chance of inflicting Sleep, while Forfeit fully decreases your Attack and has a chance of inflicting Mute.

That Brand won’t help him, though, as the other half of his paltry 20,000 or so total HP gets eaten away with five turns to spare.

I… I am the leader…of the Monastery… How can this be happening…to me?

I just wanted…a better future…for Mikado… Just wanted to make…my people happy…

And just like that, he’s gone.


Heh… It seems killing him killed everyone bound to him.

Everyone in Mikado is now dead. Well, that solves that.

Now’s not the time to get sentimental, kid. Walk the path you’ve chosen.

Time to head back to Tokyo, kid. There’s still much to do.

> And so the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado fell by the hand of one boy…

Oh, by the way, we actually get more about the Demon Gene than Hugo’s turn-wasting rambling via the Hunter Notes after the quest is completed. The long and short of it’s some manner of retrovirus the angels wove into the DNA of the people of Mikado. If there are no archangels around and Mikado has developed past a certain level of technological advancement, the retrovirus is activated, causing the victims’ brains to overload and lead to them becoming monstrous cannibals that have gained angelic powers at the cost of immense physical pain to manifest them. Why this doesn’t happen in the Peace route isn’t explained. Almost as if this is a poorly thought out DLC or something.

And what of that name, Demon Gene? Kind of an odd thing for the angels to name their handiwork, isn’t it? In that name lies the secret of why this whole DLC exists. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Demonic Gene was a what-if web manga put out around the same time as SMT IV, wherein Walter is the protagonist and Flynn doesn’t exist. It’s not good, nor is its whole plot relevant, but an element from it produced this whole sidequest.

Namely, part of the story of Demonic Gene involves the seraph Abdiel – an entity from John Milton’s Paradise Lost rather than older mythology, as well as a design unique to the manga – having worked to fuse demon and “pure-blooded human” DNA into the Demonic Gene in order to create artificial angels that would swell the ranks of Law. The Explosive Epidemic in Mikado DLC extrapolates this to being something that is present across all citizens of Mikado, as well as giving the whole set of prerequisites that must be met to activate it. None of this makes the DLC better, mind, but it at least provides context on why it even exists in the first place.

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#158

> This is a story that takes place after Nanashi chose his own path…

We last met in the depths of Twisted Tokyo. I did not think we would meet again. A strange coincidence, indeed.

I’m glad we left enough of an impression for him to remember. The two guys in suits standing beside him are Zenki (on the left) and Goki (on the right), two demons whose names you may recall featuring in two of En no Ozuno’s unique skills.

They had actual designs in the original Shin Megami Tensei, so I’m not sure why they’ve been reduced in stature to a single mirrored and kind of bland sprite now. For clarity and because I can, I’ll be using Zenki’s blue and Goki’s red sprites from the original SMT for their talk boxes.

This is the Diamond Realm. Though, you may know it better as the Expanse.

Now then… It seems you do not know why it is you have been brought here…

First, leave this room and speak with Stephen. You can ask him why you were summoned here.

If you wish to return to your world, I will take you there. Simply speak with me.

Come speak with me if you wish to heal your wounds. Good luck.

Zenki and Goki are in the adjacent rooms. Visit them if you are in need of their services.

Stephen awaits you just outside. Go speak with him.

Hello. I’m glad to see you accepted my quest.

Sorry for being so terse, we’re short on time. Allow me to explain things.

Four others have found their way here, besides yourself.

And like you, each is a messiah – though from different universes.

In other words, a protagonist.

YHVH feared them, however, and tried to force an end to their paths.

That is why I decided to…bend the laws of the universe and call them here.

This is one of the four messiahs.

He died when an ICBM fell on Tokyo.

Unfortunately, despite the Goddess’s efforts to prevent otherwise, YHVH broke his cycle of reincarnation.

I managed to salvage his soul, but… There’s nothing more I can do, beyond that.

The same applies for the other three… They’ve lost their bodies, but are now fighting here in the Diamond Realm.

I would like you to do what I am not permitted to – guide them back to their original worlds.

Should you agree to help them, I will lend you my power – even if I must risk bending the will of the Axiom.

And, of course, we agree to help them. Otherwise there’s not really much point to this DLC.

First, I would like you to go and greet the messiahs.

I’m counting on you.

For the Diamond Realm, Nanashi has beefed up even more through training and demon gifts. You may notice that hey, he’s breeched the level cap now. That’s an option procured through free ‘DLC’ that you can access at any point, but it’s finally actually required to engage in the Diamond Realm quest.

The active effects of leveling are somewhat stifled once you’ve passed the threshold. Each level up after 99 grants two ability points rather than five, +3 HP and +2 MP, and no further App points.

Demons can also keep leveling up.

There are wild demons in the Diamond realm, but they’re all level 85 versions of Aeros, Aquans, Erthys, and Flaemis; they act like A. Demons or Twisted Tokyo demons in that they can’t be negotiated with or recorded for analysis. They usually nullify every element other than the one they are weak to, so either target them with their opposing element or go for one of Physical, Gun, Light, or Dark.

Do you like linear blue and white corridors? I hope you do, because there’s a lot of them here. A whole lot of them. You need to navigate through to find the messiahs in separate rooms, including the one I have Nanashi positioned in front of right here.

Our first encountered messiah is Aleph, the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei II. After a mysterious encounter with Stephen and attaining the Demon Summoning Program, Aleph rose from a simple gladiator in the lawless quarter of the Messian’s vast Tokyo Millennium complex to a major player in the future of post-apocalyptic Tokyo. Of the gathered protagonists, he is the one that is most fitting to wear the title of Messiah, as he was literally conceived for that purpose: a replicateed man, meant to be the Messiah the Messian Order and four Herald archangels so desperately needed. Of course, free will can be a fickle thing, and the player could always choose to steer Aleph away from his Lawful destiny in order to bring forth freedom through Chaos or Neutrality. He’s one of the few SMT protagonists to directly get into fisticuffs with YHVH.

You’re the one from my dream! I see. You must be whom Stephen spoke of.

> Aleph glances at you while fighting off the enemies surrounding him.

> You leap into the fray and cut down one of the enemies.

Hey – heh, I see. You’re no ordinary kid, are you?

> Aleph nods at you.

Sorry to ask, but…mind helping me with these guys?

A. Law Horde is…well, a horde of Law. The horde resists Physical, Gun, Fire, and Force, repels Light, and is weak to Dark. This angry angelic onslaught is capable of using Antichthon, Deadly Wind, Riot Gun, Thunder Reign, Dekaja, Luster Candy, and Smile Charge. That last one’s worthy of note, as unlike main story bosses these guys have no qualms about using Smile Charge at the start of a turn and immediately following it up with Antichthon, not giving you a chance to Magaon it away. A. Law Horde’s got around 27,000 HP to remove in total, however, so the fight moves reasonable quickly.

> Aleph, having finished off his own enemies, walks over to you.

I thought I died, burned away by the Megiddo Ark…

Why am I here? Do you know what’s going on?

> You explain the situation to Aleph.

I see… In that case, I should go see En no Ozuno.

I’ll go on ahead. See you later.

Left behind in Aleph’s place is the Blue Key. The key doesn’t make sense, but it will once we gather all the messiahs. So off we go!

After passing through a teleporter in the northwest sector, we’ve made a roundabout trip up here to the northeast (please ignore the map difference, there were technical difficulties. Professional!). This is our next battleground.

> It seems he is one of the other messiahs.

> Demi-Fiend deftly avoids the enemy attacks while overwhelming them with magic.

The Demi-Fiend, protagonist of SMT III: Nocturne, is a perennial fan favorite of the series. His Tokyo is one of the Conception, where only those within a lone hospital in Shinjuku survive the apocalyptic scouring of Tokyo to prepare it as a battleground of ideologies in order to determine the fate of the next universe. Thanks to Lucifer shoving a spirit bug in his eye, the high-schooler now known as the Demi-Fiend becomes an entity somewhere between human and demon (kind of like Nanashi), his supernatural status marked by esoteric tattoos (again, kind of like Nanashi). Having no starting ideology of his own, the Demi-Fiend is nonetheless spurred on by his conviction to do something, bringing one of the various ‘Reasons’ of others to fruition.

You’re that guy from my dream!

> Demi-Fiend turns away from you and glares at the enemy horde.

> You leap into the fray and cut down one of the enemies.

Hey…

> Demi-Fiend nods at you.

Take care of these guys.

A. Chaos Horde’s a bunch of demons, just as A. Law Horde was one of angels. This horde resists Gun, Fire, and Ice, nullifies Force, and weak to Electricity and Light. Its members use their three Press Turns on Antichthon, Trisagion, Debilitate, Dekunda, Makarakarn, and Smile Charge. The A. Chaos Horde has a bit more HP than A. Law, with around 31,000 in total.

> Demi-Fiend, having finished off his own enemies, walks over to you.

I thought Lucifer killed me after I destroyed Kagutsuchi.

Who are you? Why am I here?

> You explain the situation to Demi-Fiend.

En no Ozuno… I’m heading to where he is.

…See ya.

From the Demi-Fiend, we get the red key. There’s nothing in the southwest or southeast related to our goal. Instead, we need to head back to the center, but rather than go back to En no Ozuno we need to take the path that encircles the central complex. This leads to a northerly door that exits into further corridors.

Here’s our third and final messiah-finding location.

Oh hey, it’s Flynn. We know Flynn, sort of. This is the Shin Megami Tensei IV Flynn.

A child? Here?!

> It seems this Flynn does not recognize you.

It’s dangerous here. Get back!

> As he warns you, Flynn gauges the distance between him and the enemies.

> You leap into the fray and cut down one of the enemies.

You can fight?!

> Flynn nods his head.

Please, lend me a hand. I need your strength to defeat these enemies!

The A. Neutral Horde is resistant to Force, Electricity, and Light, nullifies Ice, repels Fire, and is weak to Gun and Dark. The horde’s skills are Ice Age, Mazandyne, Thunder Reign, Trisagion, Concentrate, Smile Charge, Will of Thunder, and Will of Wind., and the gaggle of gods is about on par with A. Chaos Horde for health.

Just as I was filling the chalice with hope, I was swallowed by the Great Abaddon summoned by Jonathan…

He means the black hole from the Yamato Perpetual Reactor that Merkabah summons.

I don’t suppose you know what this is all about?

> You explain the situation to Flynn.

I see… I think I understand.

I shall speak with En no Ozuno. Let’s meet again later.

And that’s our cue to go back to En no Ozuno as well. There’s conveniently a shortcut back to the center right down and to the left (right on the minimap) from the room where we helped out IV-Flynn.

Only one remains – the one whose soul is in Stephen’s care.

Come. Give me the Red and Blue Keys.

> You hand En no Ozuno the Red Key and the Blue Key.

> The two keys shine, burst, and disappear in En no Ozuno’s hand.

The way is open… Go through the east door.

Stephen should be waiting for you on the other side.

Be prepared for anything.

You’ve no doubt noticed already, but the enemies here are strong… Be careful.

Hurry up. Don’t make me wait.

I will pray for your safety and success. Be careful.

En no Ozuno is referring to this east door. It’s quite shiny, and was previously locked even after we got both keys, requiring our monkish friend to open it.

And where we need to get is here.

Hello. Seems like you were able to meet with the messiahs from the other universes.

That leaves just one more…

> Stephen produces the last messiah’s soul and holds it up to you.

He is called the Hero… Right now, he is only a soul.

Your power is what he needs to return to his original form. Don’t worry, it’s far less complicated than it sounds.

> The messiah’s soul leaves Stephen’s hand and floats in the air.

> Stephen snaps his fingers. As he does, you feel briefly dizzy.

Now, using your power of observation, restore to him his rightful form.

So Stephen could just have just asked Nanashi to resurrect people this whole time?

By observing you, he should recall who he is. Then, he will be revived as a messiah.

To that end, I will do my own part. You just show us your potential.

Humans have been given the power to change the world.

We must show that power to his soul… Are you prepared?

You probably aren’t.


:crossed_swords: Boss Battle!: Stephen :crossed_swords:

That’s right, not only is Stephen a boss fight, he’s 28 levels higher than even YHVH himself. Meta is the enemy race for humans that have become more than human, including the Law and Chaos protagonists of the first Shin Megami Tensei, the Men in Black in the first Persona, and the planet’s herald in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey.

Stephen has no weaknesses or resistances right now, and gets a free preemptive strike to cast two Luster Candies and a Debilitate, so you are at a disadvantage right off the bat. Get rid of those buffs and debuffs before going in with your best damage dealers.

Stephen’s got a lot of tricks, but in addition to the existing skills Debilitate, Dekunda, Luster Candy, and Smile Charge, most of his unique skills are variations on existing skills. The Singularity elemental attacks are all severe damage target-all skills with Pierce. Singularity Flames is Fire damage, Singularity Hail is Ice, Singularity Lightning is Electricity, and Singularity Vortex is Force.

Energy Compression’s just severe Physical damage to one foe, like Akasha Arts but without the Smirking Pierce.

Black Body Radiation halves the remaining HP all party members. By the way, black body radiation’s a type of thermal radiation, of which one subset is Hawking radiation – named after, of course, Stephen Hawking. So that’s kind of a cute reference, even if I’m not sure what it has to do with the actual effect of the attack.

Singularity Brand deals heavy Physical damage to one foe and inflicts Brand.

Remember YHVH’s Planned Chaos skill? Calamity Code is the same thing.

There’s also Reboot Code, which is the same as YHVH’s Divine Harmony skill.


It takes a suspiciously light 25,000 HP of damage to take Stephen down. You can probably guess something’s afoot.

> Stephen leans back in his chair and gestures toward the floating soul.

It would seem he managed to regain his original form by observing our fight.

I’d hope so, given that was the whole point of that exercise.

> The soul twists into a human shape and gradually begins to become living flesh…

The Hero is the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei, the original. Way back in 1992, the Hero was the first player character to receive Stephen’s aid and usher in the formula frequently utilized by the series to this day. The Hero was fighting demons both before, during, and after the apocalypse: he encountered the initial incursion in his hometown of Kichioji, barely survived the ICBMs that rained down on Tokyo via being whisked away to the Diamond Realm, and braved the post-nuclear wasteland to advance the cause of Chaos, Law, or Neutrality.

Thank you, child. Because of you, I am whole again.

> The Hero bows to you.

Nanashi… Do you remember what I wrote in my request?

Through your observation, the Hero has remembered what he needs to do.

You are his guiding light… But I am not satisfied yet.

I said you needed to guide all of them.

> As Stephen says that, the door behind you flies open.

Looks like this was good timing.

What exactly are we supposed to do?

The players are all here… Let us begin, then.

Okay. Stephen leaves his wheelchair at this moment. He stands to prove things are ‘getting serious’. This?

This is a shitty, horrible, terrible, really bad cliché. The whole ‘now the training gloves are off, and my disability vanishes!’ media beat perpetuates this idea that disabled characters can’t be ‘badass’ unless their disability is removed. I’m sure you had options that weren’t that! You could have had him levitate himself and his wheelchair like a floating throne, that could have worked. It’s a gross thing to do in a story, and doubly so in the case of a character that was designed as an homage to the late Stephen Hawking.

That is because I sensed that humans have the potential to exceed the Axiom.

I need you to show me that I’m right, that it was worth bending such immutable rules to save you.

Now, show me humanity’s true potential.

Take the reins of history once more…

> You feel an immense energy radiating from Stephen. A knot forms in your chest.

We are short on time… All of you, come at me at once.

Don’t whine and say it’s unfair later, okay?

This imposing presence… He is no ordinary opponent. Be on your guard.

I can’t lose – there’s still something I need to do!

This is the first time I have ever had to fight at full power.

I might not be able to hold back. Apologies in advance.

Is that…Magnetite flowing from his body? I see. This must be how people fight in this world.

I know you just got your body back, but get used to it fast – he’s not going to wait around for us.


Boss Battle!: Stephen (Full Power)

Welcome to the hardest fight in the game. It’s also, unfortunately, rather underwhelming in conception once you peel past the whole fanservice skin. Stephen is almost literally just a stronger YHVH fight: he steals most of YHVH’s unique skills, has the same fight gimmick as YHVH (more on that in a moment), and he even has Demonized YHVH’s fight music.

As with YHVH, Stephen is fought with two parties. And as with YHVH, one of those parties is Nanashi and his demons while the other is a group of heroes, in this case being the protagonists of the past four games. Let’s run down how they play.

The Hero is a Physical bruiser, having High Phys Pleroma as a passive, Charge and Morale Boost (Luster Candy, but cheaper MP cost) as support skills, and Mist Rush, Crescent Slash (two medium Physical attacks plus Sukunda), and Lightspeed Slash (medium Physical attack with Pierce and reduction of a resistance by one step, which is important as Stephen has the same YHVH gimmick of starting out resistant to everything and needing to be cut down to size).

The gunman of the group, presumably because of the pistol on each hip in his original artork, Aleph has High Gun Pleroma, Critical Eye, Warrior’s Spirit (cheaper Debilitate), Myriad Arrows, Sonic Shot (two medium Gun attacks plus Magaon), and Gideon Bullet (Lightspeed Slash, but with Gun).

Demi-Fiend is your big numbers damage-dealer. On top of those massive Strength and Magic stats, he’s packing Almighty Pleroma, Samarecarm, and four unique skills: Magma Axis (Trisagion but cheaper), Deadly Fury (heavy Physical damage with a very high critical chance and Pierce), Gaea Rage (severe Almighty damage plus Debilitate), and Freikugel (severe Almighty damage that gets doubled if he’s Smirking).

Finally, there’s that SMT IV Flynn. You may notice he’s the only one that has his portrait on his stats screen, even though we clearly saw the other protagonists have portraits too. They used them in dialogue and everything, so I have no idea what that’s about. Anyway, this Flynn doesn’t have Godslayer’s Sword like Apocalypse Flynn does, and indeed doesn’t have any unique skills at all. His repertoire is made up of Enduring Soul as a passive, followed by Antichthon, Deadly Wind, Ice Age, Thunder Gods, Mediarahan, Samarecarm, and Smile Charge.

Stephen also has some new tricks to keep up with the heroes, though most are cribbed from YHVH as I stated before. On top of Black Hole, which functions exactly as it did in YHVH’s fight, we have the following renamed or new skills.

Wave Function deals severe Almighty damage to all foes.

Pair Production’s the same as YHVH’s Infinite Power and Demonic Hope’s Revelation.

Similarly, Particle Annihilation is the same as Unending Curse.

Convergence deals eight strikes of heavy Physical damage to random targets.

At around 40,000 HP of damage or so, you need to watch out for Stephen taking out all the stops to perform his most powerful two skills. Singularity Wave is the only attack in the entirety of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse that utterly curbstomps one target with colossal Almighty damage, the seldom-used fifth tier of damage even more powerful than severe. His critical hit chance seemingly goes up at this point as well, just as a fuck you, but that may be confirmation bias at work.

The other is Crack Code, which is YHVH’s Authoritative Stance with another name. Still, three Press Turns lost is obnoxious no matter what name it’s under, so good luck with that.

I’m not gonna lie to you, this can be a nasty fight. There’s not really any good solution for Singularity Wave beyond “have a demon with Samerecarm ready to put the mangled pieces of the corpse of whoever was hit by it back together again”, and beyond that it’s basically the same advice I’d give for YHVH: have at least two demons (or a demon and Nanashi) with good healing skills, a wide spread of high attack skills of various damage types to exploit various weaknesses the Messiah team will open up, and the Dekunda-Dekaja-Magaon triad of skills is vital. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with what demons you have in your party at the start or swapping out demons as the fight goes on, either, though of course that means more level grinding to get them on par.

But eventually, sooner or later, his 100,000 HP number will be up.

Your strengths are all wonderful. I suppose it’s no surprise, considering the Goddess saw so much potential in you.

My job here is done…

All of you must return to your own universes and accomplish what you were meant to do.

…Until we meet again.

And with that, Stephen disappears, the battle over and your reward of 225,400 experience points dropped in your lap.


I guess it’s only fair that the Demi-Fiend is confused, as he’s the only one here who didn’t meet Stephen in his actual game.

Yes, Stephen has restored us. All that’s left is to find a way back to our respective universes.

Yeah, I still have much to do… I can’t put it off indefinitely.

All of us have responsibilities we must tend to. This is where we part ways.

> A wormhole suddenly appears before you. It seems you can return to your world through it…

Goodbye.

Lucifer’s waiting for our showdown.

I won’t go easy on anyone who gets in my way, not even the prime minister. See ya, Nanashi.

…Okay…?

I must obtain hope with my friends and remove a dome of rock separating two countries…

Well then, I shall depart myself. Goodbye, Nanashi.

I must return to my own universe as well. I’m concerned about Tokyo, now that the ICBM fell…

I still don’t know which is the right path. Law, Chaos, or perhaps…

Maybe there isn’t a right path. But I need to learn what the people desire most.

I don’t know how long that will take, but I won’t rest until I find the answer.

Let’s meet again.

> You turn around to see En no Ozuno standing before you.

What? I just came to see you off. …Good work, Nanashi.

But, this isn’t necessarily the end.

The universe is vast. There are many worlds.

More people like you will no doubt be born and weave their own tales.

I can’t meet them all as we have, but… well, it’s nice to have a little excitement from time to time.

Farewell…

This conversation doesn’t happen if you never faced and bested En no Ozuno in the depths of Twisted Tokyo. It’s a nice moment, at least.


I have a post-mortem of this whole Let’s Play planned to go up before the month’s out, but this DLC is more or less the last proper update. And it’s certainly a DLC to have opinions on.

Is it the worst? Hell no, you saw the Explosive Epidemic in Mikado update, right? That’s irredeemably uninteresting and doesn’t even have any particularly neat rewards, just paltry experience points and a plug for a manga nobody’s going to read.

Is it the most disappointing? Maybe, but I’d say that doing something with a demon as well-known as Mephistopheles and having it be a beach episode equivalent of all things felt pretty disappointing too.

Is it the one with the most wasted potential? That one. It’s definitely that one. Messiahs in the Diamond Realm wants to coast by on the whole spectacle of “and everyone comes in for a big party” style fanservice while ultimately just rehashing YHVH. The poor old Diamond Realm doesn’t fare much better, its SNES era boxy corridor design not quite holding up to being in the era of 3D; the music is a nice remix of its theme from the original Shin Megami Tensei, but the designers could have remixed the stage itself for greater effect. And that’s not even getting started on the whole shit with Stephen standing out of his wheelchair, which I feel like I’ve made my opinion clear on already.

Kernels of a good DLC rest in the center of this. The idea that a game over has existential consequences and lads to a fight to prove your existence is still needed could have been good, a crossover of major Shin Megami Tensei protagonists across multiple timelines could have been good, revisiting the Diamond Realm could have been good, fighting Stephen could have been good. Could have been. Could have been…

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#159


It’s hard to believe that something I started doing in March of 2017 managed to run almost all the way into March of 2019. A lot can happen in a couple of years. Miiverse died. Both Persona 5 and Strange Journey Redux got released as further materials for MegaTen fans to chew on, both with their own sets of merits and flaws that have been discussed at length across the Internet. I drifted away from communities I’d been hanging around for years, and found new ones I quickly settled into. I broke my toe, which wasn’t great. But hey, here we are, finally past the last hurdle and home free.

Some Final Lessons From the Apocalypse Experience

I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink on my opinions about the story, mechanics, and characters of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse. Here, at the end, I’ll spill a bit more, and maybe end up being a bit repetitive unintentionally.

Respect Your Audience: Apocalypse was marketed as a Shin Megami Tensei game to attract purchases from younger people than the series is usually marketed to. This has been used as reasoning for why its story is the way it is, and to some extent, that’s probably true. On the other hand, this can also be a fig leaf for excusing genuine problems. “It’s for a younger audience” isn’t an excuse that works for the discomforting nature of Toki or whatever decision-making went behind Mephisto’s Hawaiian vacation. It also gives an implication that tweens and young teens can’t handle a narrative of the level of older Shin Megami Tensei games, which I’d call kind of uncharitable.

Mythological Adherence Isn’t Always Necessary (But It Sure Helps): I won’t claim to be an expert in mythology or folklore. I don’t have a degree, just more time and books in my life devoted to the subjects than I probably should have. Most of what’s in this Let’s Play are things I either already knew, had to research, or someone else had to research which I in turn found. Still, I feel like I don’t need a greater authority to say that my personal opinion on the use of myths and legends is as follows: it isn’t necessary to 100% glue yourself to one interpretation, but not every deviance is neutral or positive. In settings like Shadowrun or La Mulana, for instance, you have creatures that are named after mythological entities, but don’t necessarily match up with them simply because they are the result of human naming conventions rather than actually being those creatures of myth. With Shin Megami Tensei, you accept certain conventions that break the mythological mold, like multiples of the same singular entity or demon classifications.

These are gameplay mechanics, however, and for the most part aren’t egregious enough to affect the story. Now, Quetzalcoatl the bloodthirsty praising the sun, Dagda as a gruff death god who wants to wipe the slate clean in order to return to being an abstract concept, or Chokeslam Buddha? Now we’re entering territory of changes that adversely affect the quality of the story. I’d say that you should look to something like Scion Second Edition for a good example of how to have stories that utilize the breadth of deities while also changing them up a bit for a modern setting, but it’s technically not out yet, so I guess you’ll have to take my word for that.

Mechanics Aren’t A Substitute For Plot: I’ve said it before, and here I am saying it again. Apocalypse is up there as one of the best MegaTens from a purely mechanical standpoint. Hama and Mudo as damaging skills is good, demon affinities is good, reworked Smirk is good. Unfortunately, those issues with the story can’t just be ignored, and they drag the game down a fair bit on my list. You know what the first MegaTen I played was? Devil Survivor. That’s right, the Tactics one. It’s got pretty decent gameplay, but I’d say it still ranks pretty high on my list because the story was pretty good, if a bit more ‘anime’ than some might like.

The Best Laid Plans Can Go Awry: This is more an outside lesson than one of the game itself, though not entirely. I sure as hell never intended to take almost two years to get this LP finished, believe it or not. What started as a plan to show off a ‘problematic fave’, as it were, through a Let’s Play turned into a journey deeper and deeper into both the flaws I originally saw in Apocalypse and entirely new ones that wedged their way into my mind as I played through it a second time. Carefully planned update buffers were dashed against the rocks of unexpected complications and the far more expected Forever War I’ve had with identity and depression. If/when I decide it may be time for a Let’s Play again, I’ll need to try to come to terms with the fact that you can’t always win over your own personal demons.

Make Better, Not More (DLC): Need I point back to what we just went through? I feel like this one stands on its own.


This Let’s Play ended up being a labor beyond what I had expected when I started it, especially when I ended up becoming dissatisfied with certain aspects of posts; it’s hard to believe that I didn’t even have update headers for the first third or so of the LP now that they feel so essential. Would I go back on creating it, though? Nah. It was a weirdly cathartic journey in the end. Will I ever do another LP? I don’t know. I guess we’ll see where the wind takes us, and maybe I’ll be back for Shin Megami Tensei V or something sooner.

@Admods , this one can be sent to Completed Let’s Plays at last. I’ll let it stay open for comments, just in case.

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